Hey ST! Nice to see you again I've been wondering where you've been. Sorry I didn't greet you right away I've been having a lot going on in my life that has been keeping me from posting as regularlhy as I used to, but I still check here about once a week to at least scan the forums and to let those who are interested know that I'm still alive and still writing. While I'm here I want you guys to know that I'm confident of getting the next chapter posted before Christmas. I was actually hoping to be three more chapters ahead of where I'm currently at because it would land me on a Christmas scene which woulde been nice for the season, but alas I didn't quite make it, but I'll get there. I'm going to try and get an additional chapter completed and post that too, but it still needs a lot of work and it's more than likely by the time I can post it I'll be in the neighborhood of being halfway done with chapter 15. I'm not sure if any of you guys care about this detail, but if you're interested I have a total of 25 chapters outlined so at least this way you can see how close I am to finishing the first book.
Man, I wish Layson and Punx would come back and let me know what they thought of how far we've gotten. I miss those guys. They were two of my best critiquers. Sorry, sidetracked wish.
I would also like to welcome Balbo, the newest reader (for some reason I thought there was another individual that also posted here recently for the first time that I wanted to greet, but now I don't see them... hmmm?) and to thank you all for continuing to support this story of mine as I develop it. As always I encourage your input and honest opinions so that I can keep on making this something worth reading and hopfully get it published for a whole lot of other people to enjoy as well.
Last edited by SilentStrider (2010-12-05 19:06:45)
I'll come back later when time permits to do some aesthetic editing, but here's the first part to chapter 14 for your reading pleasure.
Okay fixed some of the formatting
Chris was in the driver’s seat and they were all heading back to Louisville. She had gotten stuck with being the one to drive since she had been the first one to fall asleep. She didn’t even remember when it had happened. One moment she was sitting in the family room listening to Tara go on and on about the Arcanus and how they ran things and the next thing she knew Dawn was nudging her awake with the morning sun shining brightly through a window over her shoulder forcing Chris to squint her eyes. It was almost noon before they had gotten everything packed, crammed some food down their throats by a very insistent Lily, and piled into the car for their six hour long drive.
Dawn was sitting in the passenger seat and had managed to stay awake with her for the first two hours of the trip, before her head started bobbing forward and to the sides as a result of staying awake all night and all the way through the morning. Annoyed at watching her head continually hang at awkward angles Chris told her to grab the neck pillow Tara wasn’t using and to just go to sleep. She continued the drive on her own with the radio music playing at a low volume to keep her company.
Tara and Sean were both in the back seat and within the first five minutes she was completely sound asleep. Somewhere within the next five minutes Sean had dozed off as well, and the two of them had stayed that way with an occasional snore escaping mouths before the sound of it woke them up enough to shift their posture. Currently Sean had propped himself up in the corner and was leaning comfortably against the door with the side of his face buried in a pillow. Tara had decided Sean’s shoulder was a good enough spot for her to rest her head on and for the majority of the road trip that’s how they remained. Dawn found the little scene to be cute and kept commenting about it until she got Chris to reposition the rear view mirror to take a look too. Chris didn’t agree or disagree with her, but she did at least admit to herself that he seemed much more pleasant while he was sleeping.
During the first couple of hours Dawn filled Chris in on the bits she had missed while conked out on the couch. Shortly after sun rise Tara had finished her third cup of coffee and they both left on the quad bikes to fetch Sean from where he was in the woods. At first Tara was adamant about Dawn not going but after a few minutes of debating the issue she conceded. They found Sean about five miles away from the house curled up beneath an evergreen with low branches and a soft bed of pine needles that carpeted the ground. Chris found it amusing that Dawn had been brave enough to accompany Tara on recovering what she had to imagine was a nude male and seeing her face turn instantly red while listening to her stammer over the details reinforced what Chris had already suspected. Dawn liked the crazy guy more than just a little bit and the idea of it bothered Chris because he was definitely the wrong person for her. However, Tara believed he could help them and she had obligated herself to helping him, so Chris had a feeling they weren’t going to see him leave anytime soon, and that made her wonder how she might protect Dawn from her newest romantic interest.
Dawn continued her narration about how she helped Tara get Sean back to the house while skipping over all the interesting parts despite Chris asking her if he had a good looking body. The rest of what she had to say was relatively mundane and Chris only half listened. It was mainly about how they hadn’t gotten any sleep and how they packed everyone’s stuff into the car so that they could still make it back to college at a decent time. Chris had at least been grateful that she was talking and providing her with some mental stimulation to keep herself awake behind the wheel, but that was hours ago.
More than a little bored, Chris’ eyes began to wander, searching for something interesting to stimulate her mind and to prevent herself from nodding off like the other three. There was a plastic cup of coffee between the front seats she recalled Lily having forced her to take with her in case she needed a little pick-me-up. Chris detested the way coffee tasted, but she at least like the way it smelled and figured that perhaps the aroma might help at least, so she kindly took it and stuck it in one of the cup holders up front. The cup had long since gotten cold and the flavorful steam had stopped rising from the tiny opening, but since no one was currently awake to see her try it she took an experimental sip just to see if she could bare it. The cold liquid left a terrible bitter taste in her mouth and she returned it back to its holder while making a disgusted face. Chris figured that at least the brief experience helped to wake her up a bit and no one had witnessed her foolish attempt.
She was able to make it within an hour of the city before she felt her eyelids were becoming too heavy to keep open. Chris had already been involved in more than one accident, of which she had to guiltily admit to having been her fault, so she had enough sensibility to not take any risks that would get her into another one. There was no way she could afford it financially. At the next rest stop she pulled in and parked the car. Dawn was the only one who woke up with the motion of the car stopping and she wearily asked what was going on. Chris said she was getting too tired to continue driving and Dawn agreed to take over and finish getting them home.
After they had both gotten out and stretched their muscles a bit Dawn got behind the wheel and they were back on the road within a matter of minutes. Chris was expecting to catch a little shut eye too, but she was unable to keep her eyes closed and found herself looking forward wondering what they might be heading into.
“I thought you were going to doze off?” Dawn’s soft voice broke her concentration before her imagination took her too far down that frightening path.
“I was, but I can’t now.” Chris kept her voice down to a whisper as well out of respect to those sleeping in the back seat.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“You just did.”
“Can I ask you another question after this one?” she said, resisting the urge to let go of the steering wheel so she could nudge Chris in the shoulder. Instead, she settled with giving her a look which was tempered by an annoyed smile.
“What’s it like for you to use your telepathy?”
“What’s its like?” Chris reiterated, unsure of how to go about answering the potentially complicated question. “What do you mean exactly?”
“Umm… well, I don’t know now how to phrase it. It’s just something I don’t really know how to relate to and I guess I was hoping you could tell me more about it.” Dawn stumbled over her words searching for the best way to phrase what she wanted to know.
Chris sighed lightly and she narrowed her eyes while giving the subject some serious thought. She had never had anyone she felt she could trust enough to talk about her abilities before, and this was the first time she was faced with having to describe it.
She didn’t know how to begin so she kept her initial reply simple. “It has its good points and bad points, but for the most part I’m glad I have it.”
“I think I can understand the good points, but how can it be bad?”
“It’s not always something I have control over,” Chris tried to explain. “There are times when I feel so receptive I don’t want to come out of my house for fear of getting overloaded with too many stray thoughts. I don’t know what makes some days worse than others, but for the most part I get by. On the days when I can’t avoid being out in public it helps when I’m near you and I’m able to just focus on your thoughts.”
“Wait a second. How often do you read my mind? Do you do that all the time?! “ Dawn took her eyes off the road to glance at Chris who tried to push herself deeper into the seat as a show of the guilt she felt from her confession.
“Chris, I can’t believe you do that” she shook her head slightly while admonishing her friend. “That’s so violating! How would you like it if you had someone else listening in onto everything you thought all the time?”
“Whoa! Calm down. It’s not like I can prevent myself from doing it. It just happens when I can’t quiet all the random voices assaulting my head. Having you around sorta helps me to filter it all so I can be out and about and still manage to be myself. It’s not perfect I know, but it’s what I’ve learned to do in order to deal with all of this. It’s not like I’ve ever had anyone to show me how to manage these abilities.”
“It bothers me that you read my thoughts without me having a say in it.”
“I’m sorry,” Chris tried to atone. “If it makes you feel better I’ve never done it intentionally, and when I have I wasn’t really concentrating on the details of what you were thinking. I don’t know how to describe what I was doing, but it’s kind of like when you’re listening to the radio, and not really paying attention to it so the music acts more like background noise.”
“So you’re saying when you can’t stop from hearing what everyone else is thinking my thoughts help you to block out the rest like white noise.” Dawn paused briefly to mull over the idea and considered how her presence apparently had helped Chris out on many occasions. She quickly came to the conclusion that perhaps she shouldn’t be too judgmental to the liberties Chris had taken. After all how could she truly understand what it was like to have her problems.
Dawn wasn’t silent for long before she resumed the conversation. “How are my thoughts different then everyone else’s? What is it about me that helps you?”
“You’re sincere and honest. Most people have two faces. There’s the one they wear for the rest of the world and then there’s their inner one. It’s who they really are and generally keep it hidden from everybody else, sometimes even themselves. But, with you it’s different. You don’t hide who you are and you’re not afraid to let the world see the real you, and you’re a genuine good person through and through. You’re always believing in the best of everyone and negativity just seems to roll off of you and, believe it or not people like you are rare.”
“What about Tara? We’re always hanging out together and you don’t seem to mind her being around. Does listening to her thoughts help you too?
“For the most part I can’t hear her,” Chris frowned. She had known Tara for some time now and it had become a point in which she never fully explored and had grown to take it for granted. With Dawn reminding her of what she had overlooked, and in light of the recent truths revealed, she decided it would finally be all right to Tara about it.
“Sometimes I can though,” Chris added. “If I’m concentrating on her and she’s feeling strong emotions I catch glimpses, but other than that she’s like a muted radio with the speakers still humming so that you know they’re on but no sound is coming out. I can sense that she’s there, but I just can’t see anything. I think that’s the main reason why I was drawn to you two guys in the first place, and why we wound up becoming friends.”
“Is the reason you don’t like Sean because his thoughts are… disturbing?”
Dawn waited for Chris to elaborate, but she simply stopped talking and kept staring straight ahead, concentrating on the road.
Unsure if she could get Chris to talk about the subject further Dawn prompted her with another question. “What does he think about?”
“He’s… he’s weird.”
Again, Chris failed to describe what she meant, but this time it was as though she was giving some serious thought to the question and was possibly trying to understand it better herself. Dawn figured it might be possible for her to get Chris to talk if she gave her a few seconds to think the matter over and then hit her with another question, so she waited before saying, “What do you mean?”
Chris remained quiet a while longer squinting her eyes in thought as if she was unsure of how to describe what she knew, but she eventually opened her mouth and forced the words out in the best way she could think of.
“He’s like a tightly wound spring ready to break at any moment. He keeps his mind wrapped up in this super tight shell and nothing gets in or out. And for the first time since I’ve known him I got a pretty good look underneath that shell last night. He’s not like anyone I have ever met. On the surface he’s mostly calm and quiet, but beneath that it’s as if he’s trying to contain a powerful storm that continuously pushes against him from the inside out. I feel like it’s been going on for a long time and it’s putting a strain on his conscious mind. All throughout everything I sensed cracks and signs of stress.”
“T, told me that she thinks he’s got a dual personality disorder. Maybe that’s what you felt?”
“She told you that?”
“I don’t know if that’s what bothers me about him. I’ve never had personal contact before with anyone like Sean, but there’s more to him than what I understand. While I was in his head I kind of got the sense there was a depth to his subconscious that made him seem like he should be someone else. Someone much older and with a lot more experience. There’s more to him than anyone of us knows about.”
“You sound like he’s puzzle you’re interested in figuring out,” Dawn said with amusement. She knew that Sean, for some reason she didn’t get, made Chris feel uncomfortable and nervous, but to her he seemed like a nice guy, quiet, and kind, maybe even a little lonely from what Tara told her. She never saw him socializing with anyone else and more than a few times she’d happen to see him in the college cafeteria sitting some place out of the way. Maybe he was a bit disturbed, but knowing what she did now she couldn’t blame him. It wasn’t his fault for the way he was. At the very least Dawn believed he was a good person at heart because he acted like he cared, and if saving Chris’ life wasn’t a prime example of that then she didn’t know what was.
“Yea, he’s interesting, but he’s also frightening too,” Chris spoke, trying to keep the conversation going even though it was topic she wasn’t happy about.
“You’re afraid of him because he’s a werewolf, aren’t you?”
“No!” Chris said sternly, raising her voice more than she intended to. A quick glance at the rear view mirror told her she hadn’t awoken her backseat passengers. “Why are you guys all over my back about that?”
She took a deep breath to help reign herself in and then tried her best to explain what she knew to Dawn.
“It’s more than him being some horror movie monster, and I think I’m only now just beginning to glimpse a bit of that truth. I mean initially, after Tara told us what he was, I thought that’s what it was too, but there’s something else. Like he’s containing a power he barely comprehends. He knows it’s there. He feels it, but he doesn’t know what it is or how to handle it, so he buries it. Only it’s not staying buried.”
Chris’ voice trailed off and she found herself reflecting heavily on what she had seen in Sean’s mind the prior night. She was still having trouble making sense of it all and trying to put it into words, let alone understand it, was proving to be difficult. Dawn sat there as well staring at Chris while she soaked in what she was trying to tell her, but she had nothing to go by other than her description which told her nothing substantial.
“What are you talking about?”
“I don’t know. I’m just rambling. There’s so much we don’t know about him, and I just feel like he’s not safe to be around. That’s why I don’t like him.”
“But Tara said he could help us, and that we could use all the help we could get.”
Chris didn’t bother responding back to Dawn. She didn’t want to continue talking about the person sitting in the back seat who she felt was a dangerous ticking time bomb with an unknown timer. She was against Tara’s decision to keep him around, but then again how could she appropriately rationalize the risk he represented and that of her unknown assailants. These were things Tara had a far better grasp of than she, and she had to trust her judgment in the matter. She didn’t like the situation, but she trusted Tara, and hoped she knew what she was doing.
When Dawn attempted to get more out of her by asking another question Chris cut her off, telling her she was done talking about it. Dawn didn’t know how to take that exactly, but she did seem apologetic for trying to push the subject. Seeing her expression made Chris feel bad, after all she was just trying to reach out and get a better grasp of another side of reality neither one of them had known was real until last night.
Last edited by SilentStrider (2010-12-17 16:10:27)
Rather than focus on what they had been talking about, Chris gave her full attention to the road. They were getting closer to home and were in the process of crossing the northern bridge of route 64 leading into Louisville. Since it was later in the evening than they had expected to be returning they were fortunate not to run into too much heavy traffic from everyone returning from the holiday. Still, there were more than enough cars on the road to slow them down.
As they made it across the bridge Dawn tried to recall exactly where Sean’s apartment was and how to get to it. She asked Chris for help in remembering, but she too had difficulty recalling the exact location, and what she had to offer only contradicted what Dawn remembered. Chris didn’t bother wasting more time and twisted about in her seat to nudge Sean’s leg. She added her voice, calling out his name in a forceful tone which served to stir Tara awake a couple of seconds before Sean lifted his head. He blinked his eyes while looking out the window, taking in his surroundings, and realized where they were.
“We’re almost to your place,” Dawn informed him, “I’m just having a little trouble remembering what street to turn down.”
“You’re almost there,” he answered. “Turn left at the second light and my place is two blocks down on the right.”
Shortly thereafter the Cadillac was pulling up alongside the curb one building further down than Sean’s apartment complex. They were fortunate to have found an empty parking spot so near, which made Dawn more inclined to ask him if he’d mind her using his bathroom. Sean shrugged his shoulders before getting out to retrieve his bags from the trunk and told her she could. Since Dawn was going Tara saw it as her place to accompany her and she gave the excuse of wanting to see if there was anything she might add to his place to help ward off detection or intrusions from potential threats, mainly demons since they were aware of him at least. Chris didn’t like the idea of sitting out in the car all by herself, so without saying a word she was quick to join them and Sean led the way into the building, up the four flights of stairs and halfway down the hallway to his front door.
After he undid the two locks and opened the door he half expected to see his cat, Serenity, come running up to him and rub against his leg with purring affection, but then he recalled how he had left her in an animal shelter so that she would be taken care of while he was gone. Her absence was greatly noticed and he promised himself he’d go pick her up as soon as he could, which would likely be after his second class in the morning. Sean’s place hadn’t entertained so many guests since he’d been living there, and between them and the noticeable absence of his pet, he was feeling more than a little awkward.
He had Dawn follow him through the living room and to the hallway where he pushed fully open the first door on the left and flicked the light switch on for the bathroom. She thanked him and bashfully closed the door. Sean continued on down the hall to his bedroom and simply tossed his bags onto the bed to deal with later and rejoined his other guests that were waiting patiently in his living room.
Chris stood silently, not having ventured further than a few steps from the entrance. It was clear to him she was only here because her friends were and would be more than happy to be the first one out as soon as they were ready to leave. Tara was making a slow circle around the couch which sat in the middle of the room facing the entertainment center and she did nothing to hide her scrutinizing of his place as she looked around.
“For a guy that lives by himself you certainly keep your place pretty clean,” she remarked with a hint of astonishment and raising one eyebrow.
“It’s not that big of a deal,” Sean replied, feeling the urge to defend his unusual bachelor like tendencies. “I just put stuff back when I’m done using it, and when I use the kitchen I clean as I go.”
“Yea, right!” Chris chimed in. “I bet you have, like some kind of cleaning service that comes in here every so often.”
Sean let Chris’ comment go and preferred to let her think what she would. Instead, he kept his eyes on the Wizard he had invited into his place making sure she didn’t do anything unbidden. He liked Tara and readily trusted her, but he had to forcefully remind himself that she was a spellcaster and that lot always had a habit of subtlety meddling with things before considering seeking the permission of others.
Magic was part of her nature and she could do things he barely comprehended. Spellcasters in general often held themselves as if they were above common folk and seldom thought twice about applying their art especially when they weren’t around other casters. Essentially, if there wasn’t anyone else present to understand what they were doing it gave them a degree of unrestricted freedom to do as they saw fit. They were only bound by their morals and sense of obligation, and Sean reasoned no matter how pure the individual, if they could get away with working magic they felt justified in doing then you could count on them doing so.
Unbothered by his watchful gaze, Tara let her eyes perform a thorough sweep of the room. She observed the Xbox console with only three games next to his television and a thin layer of dust indicating infrequent use, which was something uncommon to find with a typical male of Sean’s generation. The DVD player and its stack of DVD cases next to it showed more use by comparison, and the majority of movies were fantasy and science fiction. The low table in front of his couch had several text books from his college classes spread over the surface with a calculus book open to somewhere in the middle and a graph pad showing his struggle to figure the correct answer to one of the problems. There were several scribbled out attempts and his current answer still looked wrong.
Three cheap pictures with frames hung on his living room walls, two of which were light in color and showing a calm field with snowy mountains in the distance. The other one seemed more out of place and was a pencil sketch of Albert Einstein’s face and shoulders. The oddity of it held her attention for a brief moment while she contemplated if it held any significance to Sean.
His wall unit contained a lot of books, many of which were of similar tastes to the movies he liked, but there were also a few books that touched upon the topics of the occult. A quick scan of the titles told her that they weren’t authentic and were the over decorated covers designed to catch the eye of the consumers who wanted to waste their money in their search for something else to believe in. She found it odd that Sean would desire such books considering what he was, and the awareness he had already demonstrated of the supernatural world.
His computer desk was near the entrance to his place and was perhaps the most disorganized area of the whole room which wasn’t saying much. There was a thin stack of paper next to his printer that appeared to be a report he was working on for one of his classes. The lights on the computer tower and monitor were on but the screen was blank having long ago put itself into standby mode. Although the back of his computer tower was facing the wall there was enough of a gap for her to notice that his LAN line was disconnected a clear indication he was cautious and conscious of his security.
Tara completed her walk around the room, all the while keeping her hands inside her jacket pockets. Sean kept a close eye on the synthetic material that hid her hands to assure himself that she wasn’t trying to cover up any somatic gestures that might be required for spellcasting, but nothing she did seemed to indicate otherwise. Sean realized that his constant staring could be considered rude and unnerving, so in an attempt to play the part of a good host he asked if either of them would like something to drink.
“Yes, please,” Tara said as Chris shook her head. Before he could ask his next question she added, “Water would be fine, thank you.”
Sean stepped into his kitchen, turned on the overhead light, and opened up one of the cabinets that contained a few cheap plastic drinking cups. Tara followed him so he didn’t have to worry what she might do while he wasn’t watching her. He didn’t know if she was just keeping an eye on him or if she was using it as an excuse to extend her search, but either way she was doing him a favor.
“Ice?” he asked as he headed for the fridge.
“Sure,” she answered without glancing at him. She looked around much like she had while in the living room, searching for little clues that would tell her more about Sean and the kind of person he was.
The kitchen area was as clean as the other room. The garbage pail looked as though it had been emptied before he had taken off with them for the weekend, and there were no funny smells emanating from it. The cat litter box under the counter smelled cleaned, and when he opened his fridge to get the ice she caught a glimpse of a white clean interior. There wasn’t much stocked in there which was reasonable considering it was only one person living in the place, but she was impressed to not see anything with mold growing on it. There was even a small bowl on his table with a couple of pieces of fruit that still seemed fresh.
It was more than evident to Tara that Sean knew how to take care of himself and had good habits ingrained into him. He also adhered to a very structured life style which was apparent in how he liked keeping things clean and organized. Sean was a neat freak and liked having total control over his living space, and it made sense to her. Internally he was in a state of upheaval so he compensated by controlling the things in his life that he could. Order was something important to him and he tried to draw strength from it.
As she accepted the cup from him she noticed the unusual presence of several clear wine glasses lined up on the kitchen table, all with varying levels of water filling them. It made her wonder if they were actual crystal glasses and he had them set them up in musical sequence.
“What do you have going on here?” She asked after taking a sip and approaching the table in the other half of the kitchen.
“That? Oh, it’s nothing. Just a little project I have going on for my music class.”
“Can you play them?”
“Are you any good?”
To answer her question Sean walked around the counter that divided the kitchen and flicked on the light that hung over the table. He pulled one of the chairs completely away to allow himself plenty of room to stand in front of the table so that he could move his arms above them without restriction. After he dampened the tip of his finger from each hand with the water contained in the crystal glasses he began to lightly circle them around the rims. Flawlessly he was able to produce a beautiful ringing tune from each of the glasses he touched as the familiar melody to Silent Night filled the air.
Once again Tara was surprised with Sean’s talents and also took note of how relaxed he appeared while he played the unorthodox musical instrument. He glided his hands lightly above the glasses effortlessly and his fluid motions contributed to his masterful display. Dawn had exited the bathroom during the beginning of his performance and naturally gravitated to the archway between the kitchen and living room where she leaned against the wall to watch. Even Chris had moved away from the security of being near the exit and entered the kitchen from the other side to witness the wonderment of the music. By the time he had finished the last note they were all standing in the same room watching him.
Sean looked up and suddenly realized he had become the center of attention. Right away he felt the pressure of everyone staring at him and went immediately into his shy mode. He brought one of his hands up to push back his hair over the top of his head, a gesture Tara was getting familiar with when he was uncomfortable.
“That was amazing,” Dawn spoke in a hushed tone.
“No, not really,” Sean smiled and shrugged at the compliment. “Now if it was a song I had to work at to get the sound right or maybe something with a more complicated melody then that would be something. For right now I’m just playing around with this while trying to get a decent grade in my music class.”
“Well it’s definitely not something I could’ve done,” Chris spoke up from behind Tara, a voice no one was expecting to hear. “And you certainly have skill.”
Everyone looked at Chris and no one bothered to hide their wonderment at the uncharacteristic compliment.
“What!?” she demanded from her onlookers. “I’m just giving credit where credits due.”
Tara smirked and tilted her head forward giving it a slight shake. Before anyone had a chance to say something else she gave voice to a more pertinent issue she wanted to address before the evening grew too late.
“I noticed there’s a faint presence of a general ward around your place. Mind if I ask who did it?”
“I did,” he replied without hesitation.
“Wait a second,” Dawn said, “I thought you said you couldn’t do magic.”
“I didn’t. I’m no spellcaster, but there are things even the most non-magical person can do. What I did…” Sean said, drawing his sentence out to give himself time to cross back into the appliance side of the kitchen and open up one of the cabinet doors,”…was draw these runic symbols of protection with focused intent and hid them around my place making sure all six sides of my apartment are covered.”
In the back of the cabinet there was square piece of plain white paper taped to the wall with a pattern drawn on it in black marker. It looked very similar to the rune Tara used in the ritual she had performed with Sean, with the exception of the entire symbol being contained within a circle and smaller symbols drawn in the center directing its limited protection to specifically misdirect any type of scrying or divination. It was a very plain, unadorned ward lacking any specialized material that could easily amplify its power.
“Does that work?” Dawn asked with disbelief. “I mean can he do that?” This time she aimed her question more specifically at Tara hoping for a confirmation.
“Actually, anyone can as long as they have the right bit of knowledge and know what they’re doing, but it can hardly compare to what someone like myself can do. What you have here is very basic and lacking appropriate strength to deflect much of anything. I’d like to fashion you something a little more solid than what you have. I could probably have it ready for you by next weekend.”
“I’d rather you didn’t,” Sean rejected her offer.
Tara looked back at him, mystified as to his reason. “Why?”
“Because I don’t want to draw attention to myself, and like you said, only a proper spellcaster can create any real ward worth having. The last thing I want to do with anyone searching for out of the ordinary things is to demonstrate to them that I possess knowledge of the arcane. That would certainly throw up a red flag. At least this protection is weak enough where it won’t be noticed in a casual search and properly made to encourage any such searchers to continue looking elsewhere.”
“Oh. Well, I guess what you have here then is effective enough,” Tara said trying to hide her dislike for such obviously inferior magic. Sean imagined she was borderline insulted for being discouraged from applying her talents on something she clearly thought would improve his protection.
“I know you probably wouldn’t mind staying here and talking all night about this,” Chris chimed in, “but if you don’t mind, do you think we could get going soon. Some of us have to get up early tomorrow for class.”
“You’re right,” Tara acknowledged with a tinge of regret. “We all have classes in the morning, so we best not stay long. Besides, I’m sure Chris has got some extra credit work she was suppose to get done over the holiday that she waited until the last minute.”
Chris moaned in retaliation, but her lack of a more verbal response was all the confirmation Tara required to know that she had guessed accurately. They all began filtering toward the door with Chris being the first to exit. She didn’t even check to see if the others were following her or not but instead just continued on down the hallway. Tara paused outside of Sean’s door and turned around to regard him once more before they left.
He stood there leaning on the door frame with his shoulder, seemingly relaxed, but Tara had the sense he wasn’t as settled as he appeared. On the outside he was calm and looking as though he was exhausted with everything that had happened over the long weekend, but in his eyes there was a hint of regret, as though he were reluctant to see them depart. She tried to read the under currents and sift through the mystery of all that he was, but there were just too many loose pieces for her to put together to get a complete picture.
There was the issue of his broken mind, a thing she had never seen the like of before and didn’t fully understand how he could be functioning as well as he did. There was also the unique circumstances surrounding the nature of him being a werewolf, the dual personality disorder he had involving his bestial nature, and the circumstances surrounding how he had been bitten. So far it was a subject he had conveniently dodged, but she promised herself that when they sat down next it was a topic she was going to touch on, and get some answers.
His knowledge of magic and the supernatural world continually impressed her and, his education on the subject was what she would have expected from someone who had been trained by an initiate of the Arcanus, which was another strong indication as to whom or what his uncle might be. Sean referred to his relative as “rich and eccentric” and as a recluse, which was odd to her, considering his impressive skills. The man demonstrated an unprecedented telepathic ability of the like Tara had never heard of. How could such an individual not be known of throughout the recorded history of the Arcanus? They had the most complete and accurate records of everyone in the supernatural world and there wasn’t a single subject unknown to them.
In addition Sean’s sword and pendant were a clear testament to the level of skill the unidentified man possessed which made Tara feel certain that somewhere there had to be a record of him. No one could be that good at Crafting without making items preceding what Sean possessed, and with that being the case then she could potentially find a trail indicating who the man was. She resolved that she would have to check her contacts in order to learn anything else about his uncle and the reason Sean was reluctant to talk about him. She figured at the very least finding out what she could would indirectly aid her in understanding Sean better, and with any luck she might also find a potential ally. She could certainly use it given the situation she was in.
"We need to talk later," Tara said while she stared at him considering the possibilities. He nodded his head agreeing to the necessity of her request. "Expect me to call you tomorrow to arrange a time and place."
"Watch your back," he said as she started off down the hall toward the stairwell where Dawn waited for her.
She turned around to face him again and took a few backward steps, "I think I've got enough eyes keeping an eye on my back," she said nodding her head at Dawn. "But you're living by yourself. It's you I'm worried about."
"I'll be fine," Sean replied, sounding lazy in his assurance, as if he felt her concern was unnecessary.
“Are you guys coming?” Chris shouted from the stairwell, presumably from the first floor by the sound of it.
Tara fixed him with a serious look and added, “Don’t blow me off when I call you later.”
“I promise I’ll answer the phone,” he said before she disappeared into the stairwell.
Last edited by SilentStrider (2010-12-16 06:00:05)
Very interesting stuff and great to see that you've been able to make a few additions SS! I especially liked the part where Chris was talking about Sean having a power he barely comprehends.
The reintroduction of Sean's musical ability is also interesting. Have to see where that goes i guess...
Happy Holidays to all!
Im impressed that your still writing this. I have enjoyed it from the beginning and still it's gripping. I think I'll pick up on my own old story. =] Thanks for the inspiration.
Thank you RW! It's great to hear from your perspective and the points you find interesting. Knowing about the parts that appeal to you will help me to identify sections of the story that are captivating and assist me in future revisions. Hearing from you guys about what works is just as important as knowing what doesn't work, and is what separates a good critique from the ones with less grace.
Welcome to my story forum Soul! I do believe this is the first time I've seen you post here. I can't tell you how flattering is to hear that I'm still keeping the tale "gripping". There are parts of the story that plague my mind as having been too drawn out and I dread having to go back to chop off large pieces of it, but if it is what makes it more readable and enjoyable overall then that's what I will ultimately have to do. At least you guys here will have the lucky opportunity to see all the deleted bits and pieces before hand Also if you think the story is gripping now... oh boy... you're going to absolutely crazy with the intensity of the final 3 to 5 chapters. There's some really good scenes from now until then that will also blow you away, but the last few... man, my hands shake when I'm trying to type out the rough outline to those parts. You'll love it, trust me.
I'm also very appreciative to see that you've also read it all from the beginning. Since those are the readers who are able to see the whole spectrum of the story (that is what's completed as of this date), they have a greater understanding of all that's going on and I need to hear from the most.
I'm glad I've also inspired you to continue your old story. If you ever feel like chatting to bounce some ideas back and forth, or if you're having trouble working through areas of your story, let me know. I find it a very enjoyable and helpful way to kick start the imagination and to get me into the "writing zone".
All right I have two post prepared for you guys and I'm throwing them up here back to back. The first one doesn't have much in it (in my opinion) other than Sean chasing himself in a circle as he tries to think through a problem, but he does end up at an interesting location, and later on you'll read the results of that. The second post has a lot more interesting bits to it, including the prophecy regarding Dawn that has been mentioned earlier.
Well, read on. Hope you love it, and don't forget to give me your input to let me know what's working and what isn't or just that you're enjoying the story. Any reply is great so I stillk now i have an audience.
Sean closed his door, habitually did the three locks, and turned around to regard what he considered to be his home. The silence of the place settled around him and he was acutely aware of how empty it felt. He thought after the girls left he might be able to relax, but instead their absence left an unanticipated void. The solitude he felt now was an extreme contrast to how his weekend had been, and he almost wished he still had their company.
On impulse he walked through his kitchen and over to the window that opened up to the fire escape. It was a brand new window, and Sean recalled how his alternate form had broken through the old one while seeking a place of refuge. The manager of the place had paid professionals to install a new one and made Sean pay extra in rent to cover the cost. The work was hastily done and two of the three windows usually got stuck halfway unless they were forced.
Sean shoved it open and stepped out onto the metal platform in time to see his new friends walking down the street. He watched them as they disappeared from view and with a multitude of emotions swirling around him he couldn’t sort through. He still didn't know what to make of all the stunning revelations from the prior night, and he knew he wasn't going to be able to fully relax until he took time to think things through.
Sean sat down on the steep steps of the fire escape, and examined his relationship with the three unusual girls, wondering how well he fit in with them. They all shared a connection to the supernatural world, but only he and Tara knew anything about that side of reality. Dawn was completely new to the whole idea, and Chris only had enough awareness to know she was better off not advertizing what she could do. They made for a strange group of misfits and all of them with their own set of problems, Tara being perhaps the worst. Then again, that was only true if he left himself out of the comparison. She might have to answer to the Arcanus eventually, but at least she didn't have a monster hunting for her with the sadistic desire to destroy his life and everyone he ever cared about.
Sean jumped to his feet and inhaled a deep breath of the chilled evening air. He refused to break the vow he had made himself of not letting his thoughts of the huge werewolf cripple his life. He was aware of the dangers to himself and he could readily accept that, however grim the idea was, but now with the potential of new people getting involved in his life how could he properly justify not considering the impact of his problems on them.
He wanted to do something to ensure they’d be safe from his past, but the only reasonable choice was for him to get as far away as possible. The idea of it made him feel hollow and he tried to imagine how anyone could possibly enjoy life if they were forever running away from the people they cared about. He knew there was no way he’d be content with such a decision. In addition, taking such action now would be the same thing as abandoning them while something dangerous threatened their lives. He might not be able to solve his problems, but he could at least stick around long enough to make a difference with theirs.
Sean knew he was lucky to have been around to save Chris that one time, but the mystery remained as to where those demonspawn came from and who, if anyone, had summoned them. How likely was it that they would come back, and might it be as Tara feared? Was Dawn somehow tied into all of this?
Regardless of what the answers might be he wanted to do what he could to help. If by chance any of them were attacked by those things again he needed to be there. Out of the four of them he was probably the one most able to deal with the demonspawn, plus there was a part of him that burned with a hatred and a desire to tear into them again. It reminded him much the same way how he felt about his uncle except these feelings ran deeper and there was no way he could deny them like the way he did around Gregor.
However, if he stayed he was still faced with the issue of unwillingly involving them with his own problems, and that was unacceptable. Sean felt torn with the decision that lay before him. He was damned no matter what he chose.
He rubbed his face and ran his fingers through his hair while he tried thinking of what he ought to do. Before he realized it he was pacing back and forth on the little platform, and a restless feeling overtook him as he wrestled with the choices of his future.
The fire escape had little room, and even his apartment felt like it was too small, so he threw on a light jacket over his sweat shirt and headed out to walk the night streets. He had no destination in mind. All he wanted to do was move around in an attempt to clear his head well enough to focus on his options. He didn’t have to search too deeply to identify three basic choices. He could leave them, stay and tell them the truth, or stay and not tell them about the dangers of accepting his friendship.
He immediately dismissed the idea of leaving. There was no way he was going to let them face by themselves whatever laid in wait. He couldn’t bear the idea of anyone, or all of them, at the sadistic hands of demonspawn as a result of him not having been there to make the difference. He cared at least that much. But, at the same time it wasn’t right of him to let them get too close. People involved with him had the potential of getting killed if he were ever attacked again by that giant werewolf.
So then what was he to do? Tell them the truth or not?
Sean continued walking with hardly a consideration to his whereabouts.
He was certain if he warned them of what haunted him then they would likely want to try and help, and he knew their involvement would only wind up getting them killed. Well… Chris might not want to offer help, but it was more from the fact she didn’t trust him or think him safe. Unfortunately he was sure the other two would want to get involved and he could not allow that. Their attempt to aid him would only draw unnecessary attention and stir up trouble none of them were prepared to deal with.
On the other hand he could continue avoiding telling them the complete truth about himself for as long as he could and then once he was able to see them safely through the danger they faced then he could pack up and leave. Preferably without them knowing so they wouldn’t try to talk him out of it or follow him afterwards. It wasn’t the best solution, but it was the best compromise he could come up with to satisfy his sense of morals and to afford them what limited protection he could.
Of course keeping the truth from Tara would be near impossible. She had a knack for knowing when she was being lied to and it was only a matter of time until she started asking him the right questions. She probably had it in mind to start talking to him about it whenever she could arrange to meet up with him next, and that certainly wasn’t a conversation he was looking forward to having. She was sure to learn the truth about him sooner rather than later and then he would be faced with the problem of trying to keep her from meddling in things he didn’t’ want her to touch. Sean was at a complete loss of how he could deal with her in definite terms to ensure she wouldn’t take such measures, and his mind went back to what he had contemplated in the beginning as he reconsidered leaving them so that his problems didn’t haunt them too.
It bothered him greatly that all he could offer was distance, but there was nearly no alternative. He felt overwhelmed with frustration and dared to reconsider his choice to avoid the giant werewolf. Perhaps it was suicide to go up against the creature, but anger at his situation fueled him with irrational thoughts, and he spent some time entertaining them.
Sean continued tossing and shuffling his options about trying to come up with a solution that would fit best, but all he really did was run his mind about in a circle. He had no idea how long he spent thinking and walking and he found he cared little for the current time of night. Distantly he was aware that he had class early in the morning, but that hardly mattered in light of the larger issues.
He heaved a great sigh realizing the futility of continuing his thought process. There simply was no clear path for him to take. He'd have to take each day as it came for now until he could think of something better or an opportunity presented itself.
Finally he looked up from staring at the ground and took in his surroundings, wondering where had ended up. To his surprise he was standing right outside Chris' house.
The place obviously looked neglected and little to nothing had been done to improve it. Sean couldn't understand how she could allow the place to fall into such a condition. If it had been his home he certainly would have taken a lot more pride in it and have at least made it look less offensive to the eye.
He doubted if she was even home right now and took a moment to confirm it by increasing the sensitivity of his senses. True to what he expected there weren't any recent traces of her. He made an attempt to gauge how long it had been since she had been there last but her scent was too old and faint for him to accurately predict. As near as he could tell it had been sometime between one to two weeks. Since she was absent and he didn’t have to worry whether or not if she spotted him. He took his time in studying her house more closely
The front yard was small and what little there was contained mostly dirt with a few patches of grass trying to grow through the weeds dominating the area. A screened in porch took up the front of the house giving the illusion of more space but with paint chipping and the mesh of the screen torn, including many holes making it thoroughly pointless, it only served to increase the dilapidated appearance of the building.
The shingles on the roof were cracked and missing a few patches here and there which begged to question if the inside suffered water damage as a result. The windows were all dark without a single light beyond them offering the slightest view as to what laid inside. The place looked abandoned and could easily have passed for the neighborhoods haunted house. It was no wonder she chose to spend most of her nights sleeping in the dorms with Tara and Dawn.
Encouraged by the fact she wasn't home Sean left the sidewalk and dared to circle around the house. He was aware how suspicious he looked, like someone trespassing and trying to break in, but he considered it unlikely that he'd get reported judging by the rest of the neighborhood. The surrounding area did have a reputation for gangs, domestic violence, and other illegal activities, and most of the people there didn't want anything to do with the police.
The backyard had a chain link fence enclosing the area, and it was twice as big as the front, which wasn't much. It also looked twice as overgrown with garbage collecting all along the edges of the property and overgrown grass preventing it from blowing away. Several places along the house had planks of cedar siding warping or missing pieces, greatly diminishing the aesthetic value.
There was also a basement entrance in the back covered by a sloped metal door. Out of curiosity Sean reached for the handle and tugged on it seeing if it was locked or not. The door gave an inch before the bar on the other side held it secured, keeping it from opening. It was just as well because even if it had been unlocked he wasn't sure what he would've done if he had gained access.
Using the cellar door to stand on, he stood on its edge to peek in through the window that was off to one side. He cupped his hands around his face and leaned in close to the glass, shielding his eyes from the outside light hoping he might catch a glimpse of what the inside looked like. The view afforded him a glimpse of a narrow outdated kitchen with a tiny table and a sink of dishes desperately in need of washing.
Once again he had to ask himself how in the world could Chris let the place get so out of hand, especially when most of the fixes seemed simple. Having had a peek inside of one section of the house he got to thinking what the rest of it looked like and if it was really as bad as the outside hinted. Glancing at the backdoor he wondered if it was locked and considered trying it to see. The couple of steps leading up to the door were only a few feet away and he easily leapt the distance. The door itself had four window panes in the upper half but dingy white curtains with hand stitched flowers hung behind them making it so he couldn’t see beyond.
Sean put his hand on the doorknob, twisted, and pulled, and amazingly it opened. The door swung outward with rusty hinges squeaking as he let it slowly move the rest of the way of its own accord.
He stared into the dark house and paused, realizing what he was about to do. He never considered until now that what he was doing was trespassing in every sense of the word. He knew it was completely wrong and normally wouldn't ever consider it, yet there he was. So then why was he still standing there and not turning around? Was it simple curiosity, or was there something else in the back of his mind nagging him to press on? What was there to see?
Still unsure of his motivation he stepped across the thresh hold of Chris’ home not knowing what to expect.
Last edited by SilentStrider (2010-12-22 00:42:53)
Here you go the conclusion to chapter 14
After they had left Sean's apartment Tara was the one to get behind the wheel with Chris calling shotgun and Dawn getting stuck with the backseat by default. She took her time driving through the streets as she navigated the car through the more scenic route back to campus. For the first solid minute nobody spoke and Tara found her thoughts much further in the future than she wanted to think about. It was natural for her to worry about herself as a Wizard and what sort of justice the Arcanus might have in store for her once they discovered what she had done. She forced herself to stop thinking so far in advance because there was nothing she could do about it right now. Her friends needed her more than the Arcanus, and they were by far a more pleasant thought than the later.
Chris was the first one to break the silence. “I’m staying with you guys tonight, right?”
Tara heard her, but didn’t respond. She was too consumed by her own thoughts, and didn’t even realize she was biting her lower lip again.
“Of course you are,” Dawn answered. “We’re not going to let you stay alone at your place, besides you’ll be more comfortable at the dorm?”
“You might as well just go ahead and say it,” Chris said, sinking back into her seat with a defeated look. “I know my place is a dump. I’ve got crappy furniture, leaks in the roof, appliances that don’t work half the time, and… Oh, it’s embarrassing.”
“I don’t understand why you don’t call your dad and get his help.”
“Cause he doesn’t care.”
“No way! He’s your dad,” Dawn protested, as if that statement alone should make her reconsider talking her father.
“No he’s not. He’s never there for me. He’s always off somewhere playing soldier and never calls me on his own. It’s always him returning my phone calls after a week later and that’s if he gets the message. I’m lucky if he sends me money so he can say he’s “doing what he can”. I’m sure he’d be perfectly happy if he never heard from me again.”
Dawn shook her head in disbelief that anyone’s father could treat their own daughter so poorly. She wanted to say something to console her friend, but the attitude Chris was presenting told her she didn’t want anybody making excuses for a man she clearly thought didn’t deserve any.
Silence filled up the car again with Chris’ words creating an unpleasant mood that hung in the air. Although Tara had her mind on other things she was still listening, and Chris’ description of her dysfunctional family life triggered a question that begged to be asked. “Is it because of your abilities?”
Chris didn’t answer right away and let the silence shield her a little longer to. “Yea. It scared him.” She didn’t elaborate, and it was clear her eyes had gone distant replaying past events.
No one else said anything, aware how sensitive the subject was, but eventually Dawn’s need to know got the better of her. “What happened?”
Chris remained unfocused with a sad look in her eyes as memories she was more comfortable ignoring forced an emotional pain to the surface. Without thinking her mouth began to move, and words poured out with the need to confide a secret she had long since buried.
“He was always an intense person. That’s what my mom called him. I always felt like when he was home we were walking on eggshells.
“After my mom died from a blood clot in her head he came home from where ever he had been and promised me things would be different and that he would take care of me, but that didn’t happen. He drank all the time and acted… well, he scared me.
“Then one night, I can’t even remember how it happened, he hit me. He was about to do it again, but I pushed him away before he could. I sent him flying across the room without even touching him and ran out of the house. I didn’t go back home for three days. I had hoped with the drinking he wouldn’t remember, but when I saw him next he acted different. He never confronted me about what had happened, but he definitely kept his distance. Then a few days later he had gotten a call from some acquaintance asking him if he was looking for another job. I had just turned 18 and was getting ready to go to college, so naturally he leapt at the chance to escape and to get back into mercenary work.
“I moved here to Louisville to live with my granddad, and made plans for the university here. Before the summer’s end my granddad died of a heart attack and the house was left to my dad and I as an inheritance. I wanted to sell the place and just forget about school, but my dad put a condition on it stating I couldn’t have his half of the house until I at least got a degree. You can’t sell a house unless everyone who owns it agrees So that’s why I’m stuck where I am now and why I don’t have any family.”
Chris finished with a sigh, signifying she was done. Tara glanced over and could see her face go from the sad longing look to a hardened expression as she forced herself to wrap her private emotions back up into a shell. Dawn reached forward from the back seat and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. Chris reached up and put her hand over hers, accepting the offer and grateful they had been there for her.
“You’ve got us,”Dawn assured her.
Nothing else was spoken until after Tara had found a place to park at the dormitory parking lot. They got out of the car, grabbing all their bags at once so they didn’t have to make a second trip. Tara checked with Chris making sure she didn’t need to stop at her place to pick up anything else, and together they all proceeded into the dorms.
Chris had spent one too many nights here and had to be snuck in, but luckily the hall monitor wasn’t at the front desk and they were able to quietly make their way to the stairs. Of course it would’ve been easier to take the elevator to the third floor, but if the hall monitor was watching TV in the student lounge, which was likely, she’d hear the ding and come see who had just come in.
They managed to get to their room without anyone noticing and Chris gladly plopped herself down on the sofa she was so familiar with. The room wasn’t that big but they had managed to arrange things as efficiently as possible to include a bunk bed, two dressers, a desk with a computer, a mini fridge, and a worn three seater couch that you sank in whenever you sat down. After slinging her stuff onto the top bunk Dawn sat down next to Chris and they were relieved at finally being done with the long drive, but at the same time there was an uncomfortable tension too, as the next question began to form in everyone’s mind.
Tara sat down across from them on the bottom bunk and was first to address the issue. “We all have to stick together until I can learn more about what’s going on. It’s too dangerous otherwise.”
“But what about Sean?” Dawn was quick to ask. “He lives by himself and I don’t think we’ll be able to sneak him into the girl’s dormitory as easily as Chris.”
“Trust me it’s not that hard to sneak guys in here,” Tara told her, trying hard not visualize it. “I see it happen all of the time, but that’s beside the point. There’s no way a boy is staying in this small of a room with the three of us.
“I don’t think his badass has much to worry about,” Chris added. “You saw how he handled those other guys.”
“That’s only because they weren’t prepared for him. I can guarantee you if they come back the fight won’t be so one sided, and it’s more than likely he’ll be the one going down.”
“Are you kidding me?”Chris returned with disbelief.
“No, I’m not. Just because he’s a “badass” werewolf doesn’t mean he can get away with that in every fight. He’s got vulnerabilities.”
“Like silver,” Dawn suggested, but she looked at Tara for confirmation, not sure if the movies and legends had it right.
“Yea silver is a big one,” Tara confirmed, “but even bigger than that is his human form. It takes time for a were creature to transform and while they’re doing it they can’t defend themselves.”
“Really?” Chris challenged. “How long is it supposed to take them, because the instant replay we saw of what happened didn’t show him taking too long in going from human to werewolf.”
“What we saw last night was more like a typical transformation, but what happened in the alley wasn’t, and it’s one of many things I need to ask him about later.”
“So what next? What happens to us now?" Chris was less interested in Sean, and wanted to know more about what Tara had planned for them.
"For starters I'm going to have to educate you guys about the supernatural world, what to watch out for, and how to protect yourselves. Also, it's very important, Chris, that you stop using your telepathy so freely. That habit is probably what got the attention of those demonspawn and why they attacked you.”
“But it’s not my fault! I can’t stop hearing peoples thoughts!”
“Chris you have to, and I…” Tara began but she was quickly interrupted.
“Asking me to stop is like asking you to stop using your ears. Sound is everywhere, and if you can hear you can’t ignore it.”
“You could use earplugs,” Dawn idly commented. Both girls looked at her wondering for a moment if she was actually serious. “I didn’t mean it literally,” she countered as soon as she realized she was being stared at.
“Ughh!” Chris complained dropping her head down into her hands.
“I’m just saying…” Dawn tried to continue, but Tara stopped her.
“Chris, listen to me. I know it feels like I’m asking you to do the impossible, but if you show a little patience and give me some time I can show you how to control your telepathy.”
Chris let her arms fall and looked up at Tara, studying her face and wondering if she could actually do as she promised. “I hope so. I want it to be true. I just can’t imagine it.”
“You know,” Dawn said, with the intentions of changing the topic, “you guys are lucky.”
Tara didn’t let the affects of the comment drag out and asked her what she meant.
“You can all do cool things. You’re all special in some way, but me… I’m no different than I was before.”
“Yea, Tara, what about Dawn? You said she’s supposed to be half angel, so what does that mean for her? Can she fly and stuff?”
Tara looked at the two of them knowing full well she’d have to answer questions like this, but still not happy about it. It was her fault for bringing this on them, and she had to accept what came with the choices she made with faith she was making the right one. She had made her fair share of mistakes in life, but if there was one thing she learned in the short time she had been alive it was nothing was ever simple and life was full of grey areas. A person could only do the best they knew how and when the path wasn’t clear and push came to shove they had to trust their gut feelings. She had reasoned everything out as far as possible and logically what she had chosen was right, but it also opened up a whole bunch of other potential doors, and now it was up to her to steer them all in the right direction. The questioned remained for how long would she be able to?
Her heart was pounding with the pressure of responsibility she felt on her shoulders and she looked closely at Chris wondering briefly if she had read anything from her mind. Chris, however, looked unchanged and still awaited an answer to her question.
“No. Not yet. I mean she probably could if she manifests, but I’m hoping we never have to worry about that.”
“I can fly? Why wouldn’t I want to be able to do that?”
“I told you before,“ Tara reminded her, “your manifestation is attached to a very powerful prophecy, one in which I hope doesn’t come true. So if at all possible we need to keep that from happening.”
“What is the prophecy supposed to be about any way?” Dawn asked with wide, interested eyes, begging to know everything she could about how special she was. “Is it really that terrible?”
“Yea it is,” Tara confirmed. “Granted I’m not an expert at interpreting these things, but I have a very old and wise friend who is, and she’s counseled me on the importance of the matter. I committed the words to memory and if you want to hear it I’ll tell you.”
Tara waited, giving her friends a chance to decline.
“Well, don’t keep us in suspense,” Chris shouted, unable to handle the pause. “Tell us!”
Chris made her feelings more than clear, but it was more important for Tara to see how Dawn felt since it was highly likely it pertained directly to her. “Dawn, do you want to hear it?” she asked, making it obvious she had to tell her.
Dawn fixed her with serious eyes and made it unmistakably clear. “Yes. Tell me, please.”
Her answer was crisp, and with no hesitation. Tara knew there was absolutely no avoiding it. One way or another Dawn would discover the truth, and since it had to be then it was best she heard it from her and not by anyone else who might have ulterior motives. She took a deep breath, cleared her mind, and allowed the words she had burned into her memory rise to the surface of her thoughts. She fixed Dawn directly with her own stare and recited prophesy as Viasa had taught her.
“She opens a portal from which all men may be judged. Devils, angels, and mortals spread their fire, love, and blood. Sin fueled fire and the light of pure faith uncreate. A devil screams, an angel sings, in her womb lies deliberate death.”
When she had finished the other two girls just sat there looking back at her. They seemed riveted to Tara’s every word soaking it all up and doing their best to process the hidden meaning of the cryptic words.
“What does it mean?” Dawn whispered as if talking any louder might disrupt the moment.
“I don’t know entirely. I don’t have the gift for understanding these things. I can only repeat what I’ve been told. First you have to understand not all precogs or Divinators have the same depth of comprehension when it comes to predicting the future, so some can fill you in on more details while others can’t. My particular friend was also my teacher, and I can say with all honesty I believe her to be the best Divinator alive today. She told me that because I’m tied to you I’m also inadvertently connected to this prophecy as well, so she wasn’t willing to divulge to me all she knew, but she did give me the essentials, and said the rest was up to me to figure out. She also warned me that if I learned of it’s true meaning before my time the knowledge would change me in ways she could not predict, and none of the changes would be for the better.
“Okay… now here comes the ominous part that you’re not going to like hearing. Hidden in the meaning of those words is the end of all life as we know it. Not just here on our world, but everywhere across the universe, and the affects of it will spread…”
“What!?” Chris exclaimed unable to believe what she was hearing. She had stop to this madness from carrying on any further. “Oh come on, Tara! This is totally ridiculous! You can’t possibly expect us to believe this crap!”
“It doesn’t matter what you believe. It doesn’t even matter if Dawn or I believe it. What does matter is that there are many others out there that take this stuff very seriously, and those are the ones we need to watch out for.”
“Ignore her,” Dawn calmly interrupted. “I need to hear the rest. Tell me what it means.”
“It’s broken down into three possible outcomes. The first one is linked to everything in hell being released into our world and consuming life everywhere. The second part pertains to the biblical Judgment Day where the light of heaven sweeps over all creation, altering existence in a way we can’t even imagine. The third possibility is the most unlikeliest one to come to pass, but it’s also the one that gives us the freedom to decide our future. It’s the most difficult, bloodiest path that weaves its way on a razors edge between the first two outcomes. The individual this prophecy refers to is the key element to Armageddon, and anyone that knows about you Dawn, will try to use you to achieve the future they want.”
“I have to know something, Tara. Do you believe it’s me?”
Tara looked deeply into Dawns eyes and saw that her answer would mean a lot to her. If she told her yes then she would cling to the prophesy as though it were fact and no one would ever be able to convince otherwise, but if she told her no then maybe she could end it all here and now. The possibility weighed heavily on her like a Kevlar vest. She didn’t feel it just on her shoulders, but it encased her chest as well, making it hard to breathe. A simple “no” could make all the difference in the world in pushing her best friend away from what had to be the most dreadful prediction anyone had ever attached to one person. It was wrong to make Dawn the center of it all. She didn’t deserve it.
“I’m not sure.”
The words burned her tongue like acid. She might as well have said yes.
“I believe in prophecy, “ she went on, “but I also know that not all of them come true, and I’m hoping this is one of those. You might think it would be cool to see your angelic qualities surface, but trust me, you won’t want everything else that comes with it if it does.”
“If you ask me it’s a load of bull,” Chris felt obligated to mention. “I don’t even understand how anyone can believe in heaven as some place up in the clouds you go when you die and get to live in blissful happiness. On top of that, angels and devils… they’re all made up to scare us into doing what’s right.
Tara squared her shoulders off in Chris direction conveying the seriousness of the situation. “First off let me make it perfectly clear to you. Devils and angels are real beings, and need I remind you were nearly killed by demons which is arguably one step worse than a devil. As for the whole heaven in white fluffy clouds I couldn’t agree with you more. That’s not what heaven looks like.”
Chris and Dawn stared at Tara with a look she hated. They were reminded once more that she wasn’t just some teenager like them, and that she was a Wizard that was nearly seventy-four years old. She knew things that only a privileged few knew about and that put her in an entirely different realm than what they could comprehend. She never felt so alienated from them as she did that moment, and feared the experience would only become more frequent.
“As for the prophesy being a lie, I hope your right, because if it isn't then it's all just so…” Tara’s voice trailed off at a loss for words.
“Scary,” Dawn finished for her
“I was going to say overwhelming, but yea, you could definitely say that too.”
Last edited by SilentStrider (2010-12-22 00:49:36)
I think that if Sean's having moment where he weighs everything you might throw in how he feels about the progress he made or might make transforming w/Tara and the whole partial thing. Would be cool to get a review from his point on all that but maybe its coming....
Other than that I think the Dawn's prophecy scene works well. She could be the end of the world, which was expected, but at least she knows now!
Loving it bro!! Keep it flowing!!
Thank you, both, of you! I'm busily working on the next chapter. It will contain some tension building elements as Tara and Sean attempt to do some investigative footwork, and we'll get to learn a little more about Bannon (one of the minor villians), what happened to him after he was locked up in the vault, and what his future plans might be. I will definately have more ready to post before the new year. It's my goal to have another entire chapter completed for you guys, but at the very least I promise to have a good portion thrown up here.
Silent strider I love ur story it makes me feel like I'm actually in it myself living through every action and every word. I've read a lot of books and only a few have really mesmerized me but ur story is one of them. Keep up the good work and keep the posts coming.........
Thanks, Nightslayer (and welcome to the Werewolf Cafe) and Clair! LOL! I'm a sucker for those types of compliments. I don't care if that makes me seem petty or shallow, but they really energize me and fill me with the hope that I'm on the right path to possibly making writing a career. I know I'm a ways off from realizing that dream, but hey, why not dream big. I love the art of storytelling, and if others find my creations even the slightest bit entertaining then its a win win, right? Haha! just listen to me. I'm talking cr@p again, aren't I.
Never the less your words are exactly the fuel that keeps me burning that midnight oil in the hopes of finishing this story. I just CAN'T WAIT to hit you guys with the final chapters. For those of you that have enjoyed it so far, I'm absolutely positive you're going to love how everything unfolds in the end. I know it probably sounds like I'm talking bull again, but when you get there (and I swear to you, there's no way in h*ll I'm taking a break from this story until at least after book 3) I know you'll agree.
Also, RW, I wanted to mention earlier your insight and advice, as always, is of immense value to me. I can never tell you too much how true that is. Your honesty and decision to let me know these things are what will help me to make this story even greater. I will never stop thanking you for your posts.
All right I've already spent entirely too much time writing stuff here when I should be finishing up the next chapter.
*flinches at the sound of his own self imposed whip*
I'm going! I'm going! Jeesh....
Last edited by SilentStrider (2010-12-25 00:28:07)
I'm nearly done with this chapter. I'm working hard to complete by the end of tomorrow, because I don't know when I'll get more free time next. That's my favorite part about the holidays; all the down time I get at work. Enjoy this first part. I've got another two or three all set to go, but rather than wait I'm just going to go ahead and post them now back to back. Just to give you a heads up I haven't proofread everything yet to my satisfaction, so I expect there to be a few errors along the way as you read. Please try to read through them and I hope you enjoy.
By the way, I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas!
Sean picked out a relatively clean spot on the cracked pavement of the alley and sat down with his back up against the wall while he waited for Tara’s arrival. He was early, he knew, but he wanted to get there well before she did to be sure he’d not have any problems. Looking around at the place allowed his mind to flash back to the memory Chris had put on display for everyone else and he could see himself as a bystander watching himself as a werewolf viciously kill those people. As his imagination superimposed the images he had difficulty with the perspective looking wrong. It took him a few moments to realize memories from his other self were bleeding over into his conscious mind the more familiar he became with the scene. Rather than watching everything from the sidelines he was beginning to see the events happen as though he were a passenger looking through the eyes of the werewolf. It made him feel light headed, so much so that he was losing his sense of balance.
This was the whole reason he chose to come here early, and in his judgment the experience wasn’t worth it. He tried closing his eyes to get his mind off of his location. He thought about the past week and how much his life had changed since he met those three girls. He never imagined he’d be where he was now helping a wizard and her friends chase down monsters from hell. The one good thing he could say about it all was that the distraction from his own problems made it a welcoming project.
It was Thursday and he had finished his classes for the day. Not even five minutes had gone by after he exited his last class when his cell phone rang and he recognized the number as Tara’s. He knew what she wanted and he considered not answering, hoping he could put off their meeting a little longer, but he recalled the promise he made about not avoiding her and pressed the receive button before stalling any longer.
The first thing she accused him of was that he’d been avoiding them all week to which he replied he wasn’t doing so purposefully. He argued the point that he picked up the phone every time she called like he promised. In his defense he couldn’t meet up with her sooner because there was too much to do after they got back, like picking up his cat, a bunch of shopping, and a few home repairs, not to mention a heavy load of homework and talking to Ed to see if he still had a job. As it turned out Ed managed to get through the holiday without him and begrudgingly allowed him to come back to work.
Tara listened to his excuses but she didn’t sound totally convinced. Sean knew he wouldn’t be able to put off meeting with her forever so when she told him that she really important she talked to him in person as soon as possible he couldn’t come up with a good enough reason to avoid the inevitable. If he was going to stick around she was going to get her way sooner or later and he was going to have to answer a bunch of questions he didn’t want to. However, when she told him she wanted to meet back at the alleyway where this all began Sean objected instantly. She told him she had a good reason for choosing that place and time was of the essence so he’d better be there inside of an hour. With that she hung up leaving Sean with no chance to say otherwise. He hated how she always seemed to get the last word.
Rather than put it off he hurried to get to the meeting place as soon as possible. Sean figured she would likely try to arrive early as well and he wanted the chance to face the area on his own first. His biggest worry was if he had issues with himself at the scene while in Tara’s presence he didn’t want to lose it and accidentally hurt her. He took it as his responsibility to make sure he’d be okay enough to not endanger her.
He reflected back on how Tara and Dawn had told him of how he had been when they saw him in his werewolf form and he was largely grateful for not having been overly aggressive, but that didn’t guarantee they’d be safe in any future situations. The last thing he wanted was to feed into the notion that he was an uncontrollable monster more willing to hurt them than to leave them be.
Every night since they’d gotten back Tara had checked up on him a bunch of times by calling, and on a few occasions Dawn had wanted to talk to him as well. It was through her he had gotten the most detailed description of what he been like as a werewolf. Her reason for describing things was to see if she could help him remember some of it on his own, but no matter how she phrased it in the end he only had her words to fill in the blanks. After her third rendition Sean felt like she was fishing around for some other bit of information, and asked her what she was really looking for. Upon being confronted he could hear Dawn on the other end take the phone into another room in an attempt to talk to him privately.
It turned out she wanted to know more about the sound he had made before running off into the woods. She had told him it was an eerie, yet mournful, howl, and it had a sharp edge of emotional pain. She hadn’t talked to the others about it yet for fear they might make fun of her, but she told him she felt it was as though her heart had been stabbed with this terrible feeling of loneliness and despair. It was the saddest sound she had ever heard and she even confessed it had made her want to cry, and she probably would’ve if Tara and Chris weren’t there.
Sean didn’t know what to make of it, and when she tried asking him question about how he felt he mostly told her a lot of I don’t knows and wasn’t of much help. At the time he had felt uncomfortable discussing it with her, but afterwards he found himself reflecting as to the nature of the emotions his werewolf self was conveying. He had never imagined that side expressing such feelings and he thought about how it might relate to him.
Even though Sean was caught up with the notion of connecting to his werewolf side, he was still able to catch Tara’s flowery scent before she stepped from around the street side corner. The weather still remained seasonably cold and she came dressed appropriately in her long coat which hung nearly to her ankles. She also had a blue knitted winter hat pulled down low enough to hide the tops of her ears and heeled boots that clacked on the ground with every step. Her hair was always so puffy and stuck out from her head it was unusual to see it all tucked under a hat. It actually made her look smaller than he was used to. As she approached he entertained the thought of how she might react to a bad case of hat hair if she suddenly had to remove it.
“You seem to be in a good mood,” Tara greeted him, offering a smile in return. “Is the holiday spirit starting to catch up with you?”
Sean almost said yes, but caught himself before he answered. He knew how Tara felt about lies and half truths and didn’t want to give her another excuse to kick him in the shins, so he just skipped the question. Instead he got right down to business and asked why she wanted to meet here of all places.
“I’ve got two reasons. One; I want a chance to get to talk without Chris and Dawn present, and two; we need answers and I want you to try tracking down where those demonspawn originated.”
Sean considered what she told him and instinctively sniffed the air testing it for the defiled scent. He knew the things had been there and he thought he could pick an ever so faint trace of them, but it was so weak there was no telling if the surrounding area was just helping him to remember what the smell had been like.
He looked at her and said, “I don’t think we’re going to have much luck with me following their trail. It’s too old and there’s been too much activity for me to get a lock on it.”
“Don’t worry. I’ve got something to help with that.”
As she answered she pulled out a small glass vial from a coat pocket her hand was stuffed in. She held it up in front of Sean’s face with it between her thumb and index finger, and an inky liquid sloshed around inside. Sean was about to say something, but she beat him to it before he could
“I know what you’re about to say, and I remember that I told you I wasn’t going to make you do things like this again. I’m sorry I’m even suggesting this to you, but we need answers and I don’t have a lot to go on. I won’t make you…”
“I can’t believe this,” Sean’s face scrunched up at the dreadful idea of what vile concoction she had cooked up and wanted him to drink.
“I know. I know. I shouldn’t have even asked.” Tara looked away from him and started to put the vial back into her pocket, but before she could complete the motion Sean was reaching to take it out of her hands.
“Don’t even pretend you’re not playing me,” accused her and Tara offered no resistance as he took the item from her. “Like you said we don’t know what’s going on and we need to find out, so what choice is there really for us, or maybe I should say what choice is there for me.”
“I’m serious. If you don’t want to…”
“Stop. If there was a better way you wouldn’t be asking me. So tell me how this is supposed to work?”
Tara nodded her head, glad for Sean’s understanding and cooperation.
“Don’t drink that it won’t be good for you.”
“What is it?”
“That’s what little I have left of one of the demonspawn you encountered.”
Sean looked at the vial more closely and recognized the substance as part of what she had used to help him and Chris recreate the alley incident. By comparison there had been at least three times the amount the last time he had seen the substance.
“What have you been doing with it?”
“Nothing. It’s a very unstable compound and no matter how tightly it’s sealed up there’s nothing that can be done to keep it on this plain for long. The only thing keeping it here as long as it’s been is the human blood that’s part of its chemical makeup, but as that’s consumed the remnant of that demon essence returns to the plane it originated from.”
“I’m glad I don’t have to drink this, but what do you want me to do with it?”
“Inhale it’s vapors.”
“That sounds gross.”
“I imagine it will be, but don’t do it until after you’ve rubbed this nonmedicated ointment on the bridge of your nose and put these glasses on.” Tara pulled out of her other pocket a ziplock bag with a pea green paste in it and a pair of non prescription glasses, showing them to him, but not handing them over quite yet.
“There’s some instructions that go along with these before you begin your hunt,” she continued, “and I know things work better if I tell you before we begin.”
“Okay. Let’s have it.”
“I’m going to smear some of this,” she held up the green paste, “on the part of the glasses here that make contact with the bridge of your nose. Next you put them on and I ignite the catalyst magic stored in it.”
“Wait! You said ignite, like you mean set on fire?”
“I’m not literally going to set it on fire but it may feel like its burning.”
“I can’t believe I’m agreeing to this. I feel like I’m your test subject you get to try out all your new experiments on. What’s in that green stuff?”
“There’s some witch-hazel, a pinch of salt, some eucalyptus…”
“There’s wolfs-bane in here too, isn’t there,” Sean finished for her so she didn’t have to.
“Yea, there’s that too, and when I activate the enchantment that’s the part that’s going to make it feel like it hurts.”
“Sounds better than swallowing an actual part of the plant”
“I think I should also warn you that I’m estimating you won’t like the inhaling of the demonspawn blood.”
Sean stared at her, blinking once waiting for the explanation.
“What this is all going to do is enhance your sense of smell to this specific demonspawn and it’s going to link with your perception so that you’ll be able to literally see the trail it had taken while it was able to exist here on our plane.”
“Okay, I don’t know a whole lot about these things, but based on what you’ve already told me don’t those things completely evaporate, and if that’s true how will there be any trace of them left for me to pick up?”
“You’re right. You wouldn’t normally be able to smell them, but what I’m actually doing is linking your strongest sense with your eyes so what you’ll be picking up is the pieces of its aura it left behind. That stuff lingers the longest because of how evil those things are but even that eventually fades too, and here in a populated city there may not even be enough left for you to detect, but I’m hoping I’m wrong.”
“So I may be doing all of this for nothing!?”
“I’m afraid so. I don’t know the rate at which these things disappear at but I still feel it’s worth a shot.”
“Let’s do this,” Sean said with a resigned sigh.
Tara proceeded with dabbing some of the ugly paste onto the glasses and handing them to him. He put them on his face, careful not to get any of the green stuff anywhere else other than where the glasses made contact with the bridge of his nose.
“Now you’re going to have to concentrate on holding your breath while I activate the enchantment. It’ll only take a few seconds, but ready yourself because I don’t know how acutely you’ll feel the pain. After it’s complete the very next thing you have to smell is the substance in the vial. I’m going to heat it up as I’m activating your enchantment so it’ll be ready for you. It’s going to dissipate from the vial very fast so be ready.” Tara gave a solid pause, studying Sean’s face, making sure he comprehended everything she was telling him. “Okay, here we go.”
Sean felt ridiculous wearing glasses and the small amount of extra weight on the bridge of his nose was odd. Tara held the vial in her hand she wore the bracelet Viasa had given her, and a faint red glow encompassed the bottom of the glass where it touched her skin. After ensuring the heating up process was well under way she hummed some archaic words in a deep voice from the back of her throat.
“Dorrrr, Vueeee, Kal.”
Sean felt the green stuff instantly sizzle, and it stung slightly as it disappeared. He expected worse, but was quite happy the experience was nothing like the wolfsbane petal.
Tara was able to see Sean was barely bothered by the spell effect, and brought the demonspawn blood close to his nose, prepared to remove its stopper. As soon as she removed it he was surprised to see how fast the liquid disappeared. The fluid erupted out of the container in a bubble that quickly dispersed, and Sean hurried to inhale the vapors.
He was prepared to feel discomfort, or maybe even pain, but it was nothing as he expected. Anger. Rage. His blood was on fire. He wanted to kill and he was more than willing to give his entire being over to the dark passion.
His body instantly heated up with an imminent transformation and he barely noticed it happening. Muscles expanded. Hair thickened. Colors, sounds and smells all intensified with vivid details. He was going to hunt down this demon and destroy it and woe to anyone standing in his path including the spellcaster in front of him.
Sean screamed as he tried to wrestle for control over his own body. He fell to his knees and kept his eyes on the ground so Tara might avoid his wrath. Several times he slammed his fist into the ground with complete abandon, not caring what kind of damage he did to himself. He desperately needed something to distract from the all consuming bloodlust and he tried to concentrate on his hands of which he was sure should be hurting, but he felt nothing.
He hit the ground over and over, unaware of how many times, until his pain receptors finally registered what was happening. The fire in his body was beginning to extinguish and his mental clarity was slowly returning. His lungs were breathing fast and heavy almost as if he had just ran a marathon. The ground was cracked and dented where he had been pounding away and there were wet red spots as evidence of the damage he had inflicted upon himself. He stopped to look at his hands, worried how mangled they were and was surprised to see they were clean and undamaged.
His expression must’ve been very transparent, because Tara made a comment of how fast he healed. He couldn’t yet process everything she was saying, but he understood enough to know she had been frightened and fascinated by what she had seen. Sean heard himself tell her to stop talking and he spent the next several minutes concentrating on his breathing and reigning in his emotions. Eventually he got back up on his feet unable to completely quell the energized feeling he had from the massive adrenaline rush. There was still a need to pursue the evil he had smelled, but it didn’t control him.
Testing himself he looked at Tara again, making sure she would be safe. Sean was grateful his subdued desire to track down the demonspawn was only that and there was no residual rage directed at her. She looked back at him, assessing and wondering how badly she had messed him up this time.
“I’m alright,” he assured.
“Are you sure?” she asked, sounding more apologetic.
Sean just nodded, and then he noticed specks of blackness floating in the air here and there. He narrowed his eyes and focused on the strange things. Tara looked in the direction he was, but didn’t seem to pick up on what he was seeing. Sean took a couple of steps to the nearest black spot and tried to touch it, but his fingers went right through like it wasn’t really there.
“Can you see it?” Tara sounded hopeful.
“It’s like a fuzzy black spot no bigger than my fingernail, and it’s just hanging there in midair.”
“Yes! We’re in luck!” Tara’s exuberance was more than what Sean expected, and he was slightly taken aback. “I love how I can pull off stuff like this and still not get caught.”
“Let’s say there’s enough of this stuff still around for me to track back to its point of origin, then what? Are you ready for whatever we may find?”
“If we do happen to find anything at the first sign of danger we back out, I’m not prepared for a fight.”
“Alright, but just so you know, despite everything you’ve already done to me, I’ll still protect you.”
“Aww, how sweet of you.”
“Just don’t let it go to your head. You will owe me.”
“We’ll talk about that later. Right now we need you to follow that trail,” Tara said as she pointed where they had entered the alley, assuming it was the way they had to go.
Sean looked around for more of the black dots letting them lead him in the right direction, and he saw several more going further back into the alley.
“This way,” he told her as his eyes shifted from one speck to the next.
Tara had already taken a couple of steps in the opposite direction. Without missing a beat she did a very sharp about face and continued in pursuit of Sean. The alley bent left then right narrowing down to five feet and opened up to the street on the opposite side of the buildings. All the while Sean could see an abundance of clues the demonspawn had been here, but as soon as they hit the street the trail looked as though it had disappeared.
Tara waited patiently for him to pick a direction, knowing full well that this was the hard part and fearing too much time had passed with too much activity in the area diluting the aura of the trail. Eventually Sean spotted another black dot about forty feet to his left. It was less than half the size of the ones he had seen in the alley, and the color was more grey than black.
“This one’s smaller and duller,” he described, “but at least we know which way to go.”
“Thank you, Sean. This is more than I could’ve hoped for.”
“Don’t thank me yet. We haven’t found anything other than some aura bits that might not be enough to get us anywhere, and if by chance we do find something it may not be good thing.”
Last edited by SilentStrider (2010-12-28 03:33:10)
There's quite a bit of dialogue here, but I think you'll find it interesting as some questions are answered while more are introduced.
Sean kept walking and every thirty to sixty feet he’d find another piece of the trail. Sometimes the spots would be so faint it would be nearly nonexistent, and in other places where he’d thought there should be something there wouldn’t be. It was evident where there had been more traffic the demon’s aura had been wiped away. He knew there were going to be points he’d have to guess which way to go and the search might go painstakingly slow, but it was all systemic. If he took his time he felt confident he’d find where the trail led.
Tara followed him every step of the way and he didn’t have to look over his shoulder to tell by the constant clacking of her boots she was staying close. She watched and waited making sure he was well underway before saying anything. “Can we talk while you’re doing this?”
“Yea, I guess. I have a good idea where I’m headed any way so it won’t be distracting.”
“You do? Where?”
“We’ve got to go pass the place Chris and I work. That’s where we met them first.”
“Of course. That would make sense.”
“So… what did yo want to talk aobut?”
“Oh, there’s a bunch of things, but let’s start off with something simple. How did you become a werewolf? Were you born or bitten?”
“Where’s your scar?”
Sean pointed to his upper left arm making sure she saw his gesture.
“Can I see it?”
“I rather not.”
“Oh come on. How bad could it be?”
Sean stopped walking turned his body so it faced Tara completely. He thought about what the old wound would imply once she saw it, and all of the other questions it would raise. She stared, searching him for every scrap of truth she could possibly find, evaluating his actions and body language. There was no mistaking her focused determination, and he knew that one way or another she was going to find the answers she was looking for. She had been extremely indulgent in not pressuring Sean sooner than this, and the fact that she was confronting him directly was more likely out of courtesy than necessity.
With a sigh he surrendered himself to showing her his scar, took off his jacket and rolled back the sleeve so she could see for herself. Tara moved in closer to get a better look and the confusion on her face was evident.
“There’s no teeth marks, no raised section indicating a chunk of flesh missing. How did you get this?”
He resisted answering for a moment, but after she looked into his face again he gave up. “It bit my arm off.”
“What?!” Tara lit up in shock and she went back to examining the scar that formed a complete circle around his arm. “Oh my God! How did you get your arm back? Don’t tell me it completely regenerated.”
“Well I wasn’t conscious for it, but yea, it grew back.”
Tara studied it a little longer before Sean decided she had enough and covered himself back up. They continued walking some more and she didn’t waste any time getting back into her detective role.
“I take it the werewolf wasn’t trying to turn you so what did you do to piss it off?”
“Nothing. It was the Veil’s fault.”
"You mean the government owned operation? That Veil?”
“That’s the only one I know of.”
“How did you get involved with them? No, wait, I don’t want to skip anything. How was it the Veil’s fault?”
“I don’t know all the details. It happened a long time ago when I was twelve. My uncle said they did something to summon this giant werewolf. It killed my parents, killed all the Veil agents that were there and nearly killed me too. The only reason I’m alive today is because my uncle happened to be checking up on me that particular night and managed to grab me out of there.”
“Can you tell me more about that night?”
“Actually, no, I can’t. I have amnesia and I can’t remember anything from the moment I was born to the second I regained consciousness. The only reason I know anything about what happened to me is because my uncle told me.”
“Your uncle seems to be heavily involved in your life. I bet he might have some of the answers to my questions.”
Sean grumbled something unintelligible, but Tara chose to ignore the comment, believing it was irrelevant and not worth hearing.
“Tell me about your amnesia? How did you lose your memory?”
“There’s no definite answer to that question, but I can guess it was something the werewolf did to me. Just before I lost my arm it held me in front of its face and there was this weird ambient connecting us. Sometimes in my dreams I have nightmares about the thing’s eyes and I get this feeling as though I’m falling into it, like I’m being swallowed up by the blackness of its pupils.”
“What the hell.” Tara looked at Sean’s face trying to read if there was anything else hidden in the words he used, but he kept himself emotionally detached and very neutral. She was so caught up in what he was telling her she fell behind a couple of paces before she even realized. There were things that weren’t adding up creating more questions than answers. She had mentally prepared a list, but the more he told her the more useless it became. Her mind worked fast to make sense of what he was telling her and to ask what she needed to know.
“Alright, back up a step and tell me what you did to get the attention of the Veil.”
“I have no idea. My uncle told me they might have been using me as some kind of focus to attract the giant werewolf, but there’s no way to know for sure, and I’m not going to go out of my way to ask someone from the Veil what they were up to.”
“What you’re saying isn’t making sense. You don’t summon werewolves. That’s something you only do with spirits and extraplanar creatures. Plus what was it doing while holding…” Tara stopped in mid sentence. It took her a second to comprehend Sean wasn’t walking with her anymore and she turned around to see he was looking straight ahead at nothing. “What’s wrong?”
“Something you said just… I don’t know… clicked. Like a puzzle I’ve been trying to put together and you just added a missing piece, but I don’t even know what it was.” For a moment his face was scrunched up with intense focus as he tried his hardest to grasp what Tara had just revealed.
Basically she was saying it wasn’t even a werewolf that had bitten him. But then what was it, and why was he turned into something just like it? He showed all the indications and attributes of being a were creature, except for the circumstances surrounding how he had been bitten. Nothing about that night had been normal, even by supernatural standards. The mystery of it all teased his mind and all he wanted to do was stay there until he was able to figure out what this new clue meant.
“Hey! Are you still with me?” Tara waved her hand in front of his eyes to get his attention. He responded with a simple nod regretting how the moment was slipping through his mental grasp.
“Don’t worry. I promise I’ll help you figure it out.” She pointed over her shoulder with her thumb and said, “Your work place is just down the street. Let’s concentrate on picking up the trail from there and see where it leads us, okay?”
Sean just gave her a look of resignation and plodded forward, promising himself he’d return to that line of thought and find the answer he was searching for. He supposed he should probably at least be thankful her questions were in some ways working out to be as informative for him as it was for her.
When they arrived at the sidewalk just outside (restaurant name) Sean took his time looking for another sign of the demonspawn’s presence. He looked all around but the place had seen too much activity as was evident by the constant flow of street trafic and people on the sidewalk. He walked around a little, even crossing the street, increasing the range of his search pattern, but he wasn’t having any luck. All the while Tara stayed close to him keeping an eye out for anything else.
He noticed the further along they went the tenser Tara became, and he recognized her level of fear was slowly rising. He didn’t blame her. After all the things they were looking for were one of the worst types of monsters out there, and on occasion when they did pop up large groups with the means to destroy them would hunt them down. In this case it was one lone werewolf and one lone Wizard. A very inadequately prepared and unorthodox pair.
Not talking was only serving to increase Tara’s anxiety and she kept moving in closer to him. She eventually put her arm in his which surprised Sean enough to stop and look down at her.
“Do you mind?” she asked hoping he’d be kind enough to allow her.
He didn’t like that he’d have to slow his pace down to match her shorter legs, but his sympathy easily got the better of him and he agreed. Eventually he chose one of the streets that led away from the restaurant on the off chance he might pick up the trail again.
He was in luck. They walked a block and half before he happened across another one of those diluted dots. It looked more like a terrible see-through water color smear suspended in the air and it no longer had the nice neat round shape like the other ones he had seen. When he told Tara how it looked she informed him they didn’t have long until the aura would completely breakdown, possibly another hour or two at most.
Despite the time constraint there was nothing to do other than walk slowly and scrutinize every where they went. Tara stayed silent and he could only imagine she was coming up with all sorts of horrible scenarios if they happened to find their prey. Sean took pity on her and attempted to distract her by asking if she had more questions for him. She looked up and blinked at him twice before she found her voice again.
“Do you miss your parents,” she started off saying.
“I wish I did, but I can’t miss what I don’t remember. There’s not enough of me left up here to know what it was like when I did have them.”
“Maybe Chris can help you with that,” Tara offered, trying to sound optimistic.
Sean considered the thought for a second, but immediately rejected it with a shake of his head.
“I’ve already had an extremely skilled telepath work his way inside and out of my mind, and if he couldn’t do anything for me I highly doubt there’s anything Chris can do.”
“Do you mean there’s absolutely nothing recoverable from your lost memories?”
Sean just nodded.
“If your amnesia was the result of trauma, either physical or emotional, then logically your memories would still exist locked up in your head, but from what you’re saying there’s not even a trace. Then that would mean they were erased, or maybe even stolen.”
Again the puzzle shifted in Sean’s mind as he absorbed what Tara was telling him. She didn’t have to explain what she was suggesting. The summoned werewolf had wiped his memory completely clean but, if that were true then why and for what purpose?
“How good was the telepath who examined you,” Tara continued, presumably to be thorough, “and for that matter who was he?”
“It was my uncle, and trust me I don’t think you’ll find anyone else as skilled as he is.”
“Your uncle again. Huh! Is there nothing he can’t do, and why do you think no one is better than him?”
“Because he’s a vampire.”
Tara was so stunned to hear Sean say those words, her feet stopped working properly and she stumbled. She gripped Sean’s arm to keep herself from falling and he stopped, giving her a chance to recover. Sean noticed her actions catch the eyes of a few people as heads turned or shifted to catch a glimpse of the momentary spectacle.
“He’s a… vampire?” Tara said in dismay, managing to catch herself in time to lower her voice before her last spoken word. Sean was unable to fully understand why she was overreacting.
“You trusted a vampire to meddle around in your head? Are you insane?”
“What’s the big deal?”
“You can’t trust them! And on top of that you’re a… werewolf. How the hell could you even tolerate that?”
Sean took a second to digest what she meant. He understood the last part very well because he had experienced his deep rooted hatred for the species firsthand for eight consecutive years, but the way she was talking about vampires in general it was as though none of them were considered good even in the slightest degree. What she suggested disagreed with everything he had known his uncle to be. Despite the fact they were natural enemies Gregor still treated him with the respect and kindness a father would’ve given their son. He couldn’t understand where Tara was coming from.
She watched him, waiting for him to say something.
“He’s the only family I’ve got. There is no one else. Besides after… well, you know, I was in a coma for several months, so it’s not like I really had a choice of where I ended up. He helped me recover and taught me everything I needed to know about what I am now.”
She continued to look up at him in astonishment.
“Come on,” he prodded her, “If we’re going to find anything then we can’t waste time staying in one spot.”
Once they took their first couple of steps Tara recovered enough to speak.
“I can’t believe you lived with a vampire for that long. Werewolves go into a killing frenzy just upon seeing them. You know that, right?”
“Oh boy, do I. He and I have gotten into some pretty brutal fights over the stupidest things.”
“How did the two of you manage?”
“Trust me, it wasn’t easy, but he’s family. We made it work.”
“You’re amazing, you know that? Even among the supernatural there’s nothing normal about you. You’re one mystery after another.”
“So am I creating more questions than answers for you?”
“In the worst way.” Tara’s voice dropped off and her mind filed and categorized everything. She busily sorted through all the new information trying to formalize new questions in response to what Sean had told her.
“Why don’t we see if we can make things simpler for you,” Sean offered.
“What do you have in mind?”
“Why are you asking me all these questions? What’s the one thing you really want to know?” Sean was hoping that maybe he could circumvent some of the other details he didn’t want to discuss by dealing with the main issue.
“I need to know what to expect from you. What do you have going on that could possibly add to the danger we’re already in?”
Tara paused giving Sean a chance to confess anything else about his past, but he kept silent. That worried her. It made her feel like he was still holding something back, and she didn’t like that nagging feeling one bit.
“Let’s see,” she started, holding her hand up to check off each point, “you’re most likely on the Veil’s wanted list, so that gives you a high profile. You’re a loose cannon when it comes to your other form. You have amnesia. You’ve been brought up by a vampire whom you’ve allowed to mess with your head, so who knows what kind of problems you may have inherited there.”
Sean opened his mouth to protest, but Tara cut him off before he could.
“I’m not done yet,” she continued. “The inside of your mind is… well, nothing like I’ve ever seen, and it has me concerned. I’m worried exactly how stable you might be, and that’s definitely something we’re going to have to take a closer look at.”
“I don’t think I like the sound of that.”
“There’s stuff going on inside of you that no one has clue about including you, and if you want to figure it out you’re going to have to let me help you. Do you want me to help you?”
“Then tell me whatever it is you’re not telling me.”
Sean couldn’t believe this was happening so fast. She knew he was holding back and had given up on shoveling for answers and went straight for the bulldozer. She was ruthless when she wanted to know something, especially when it involved her friends. He was wild cannon, an unknown. He could prove to be a great asset, but he also brought with him his own problems, and that’s what had Tara concerned. She needed to know how much better they would be with or without him.
“Come on, Sean, talk to me.”
This was the moment Sean was dreading the most. She was going to find out, he had already accepted that fact days before, but he had hoped he might be able to keep from telling her a little longer. He didn’t look at her, but he could feel the pressure of her eyes watching his face, aware of the stress he was feeling.
“Alright. I’ll tell you, but I need you to do something for me in return.”
“After I’m done helping you with whatever is going on here, I need you to let me go.”
“Because it’s not safe for anyone to be around me.”
Tara didn’t ask any more questions. There was no need. He had finally admitted to her there was a deep dark secret. Now all that was left was to let him explain it.
“The werewolf that bit me, well, it wants me dead. Somehow it finds me wherever I go and tries to kill me, and if there’s anyone else around when it does they’re as good as dead too.”
“Okay. Now you see right there, that doesn’t make any sense. Werewolves don’t try to kill their own. This just makes me more convinced you weren’t bitten by one.”
“Tara, you’re missing my point. You, Dawn, Chris, if any of you are around me when this thing finds me again then you’re as good as dead.
“Are you sure it wants to kill you?”
“Yea,” Sean was quick to respond, but he reconsidered his response the second the words left his mouth. If it wasn’t a werewolf, like Tara suggested, then what was it and what did it want with him. There was no doubt it was a bloodthirsty monster with a sadistic mind and enjoyed killing, but why was he the main focus? What about him had the attention of the thing?
“How many times have you been confronted by this thing that looks like a werewolf?”
Tara could see he wasn’t thinking about numbers. He was busy reexamining past events and revaluating those encounters in light of the questions she presented him. He had already slowed his pace once out of kindness so she could take shelter from her surmounting fears, and now her questions decreased his movement even more turning his attention onto other things besides their search.
She sighed and told him, “I regret having to say this, but we should continue this later. Our little hunt may not turn up anything, but I still think we should make it count.”
Sean understood what she meant, and looked over his shoulder trying to account for the space he had gone without taking note of his surroundings. It hadn’t been far, but still there was a chance they could’ve missed something, and out of his desire to be thorough they retraced their steps enough to be sure. Unfortunately there was nothing to be found, but at least they had the peace of mind of not having skipped anything.
Last edited by SilentStrider (2010-12-28 03:46:34)
This addition wraps up the scene with Tara and Sean, but it's not the end of the chapter. The next installment I'm working on will be a break in the chapter and show what's going on with Bannon. Again I'm sure I have more than my ordinary amount of spelling and grammatical mistakes, and even a bunch of sentence structure requiring rewording, and maybe if I feel like it later I'll come back through, clean it up, and repost it, but for now I'm trying to make the most of my time and not worry overly much about editing. I'm pretty sure the flow of the story is adequate enough to where you can get some enjoyment out of it. Well... proceed...
It was nearly an hour until Sean found another trace of the demonspawn’s evaporating trail, and he had almost missed it. He considered himself extremely lucky despite his skills and vigilance, due to the simple fact this grey spot wasn’t outside. He had happen to be looking away from the street and witnessed on the other side of a glass door, approximately twenty feet away from him, a discoloration of the air, frozen in the form of an ashen drip.
He stopped immediately, almost jerking Tara to a halt, but she was fast enough to respond to his abrupt change. She followed his gaze, and without saying a word they both walked into a (insert brand name clothing store, like the Gap, or Kohls, or something like that) department clothing store.
“I take it you haven’t suddenly been struck with the urge to overhaul your wardrobe?” Tara tried joking to take the edge off of the sudden spike of fear she felt, but her tone was dry and humorless, failing to elicit a response from Sean. He ignored her comment and concentrated on the task at hand.
She resolved to remain silent and let Sean continue to do his job. It could be purely happenstance the demonspawn had chosen to enter this place, but in consideration she had to admit to herself it was an odd place for an otherworldly creature to enter. Tara had a little laugh at the thought of it checking out clothes, and once again had to admit to herself it was her way of trying to hide from the nervousness that was building up in the pit of her stomach that they just might find something life threatening.
He led them all over the store from the first floor to the second and three times they had to endure the persistent and overly cheerful offer of a floor attendant. Sean didn’t slow down and blew them off with a bare minimum of words. Tara tried to amend things by making the quick excuse he had something very specific in mind and was irrefutably stubborn when it came to accepting help. If Sean cared what she said his demeanor certainly didn’t show it with him pressing on as if everything else was of no consequence.
Tara was grateful for his unfaltering determination.
“I’m not finding anything,” he finally said, “but I’ve got a hunch.”
She was surprised when he directed them through a door meant for employees only and the odd combination of hope and fear hit her when she saw the instant look of satisfaction across his face.
“I think we might have something,” he whispered. “This aura piece still has a round shape.”
After sharing that observation with her he didn’t spare a single moment to appreciate their findings. Instead he told her to take off her boots. She was about to complain, but stopped herself once she realized his reason. It was a warehouse setting and not too far away she could hear people talking while they worked. Sean had every intention of continuing onward, preferably without her noisy boots drawing attention, and he was faster than she was in sweeping them up off the ground.
He hurried them through the large room with shelves and racks full of a myriad assortment of colorful apparel meant for all different types of seasons, most of which seemed to have fashion in mind as opposed to practicality. There were fluorescent lights hanging from the ceiling barely creating adequate working conditions, but that only proved to their benefit. She caught glimpses of other employees sorting, folding and performing other mindless tasks, but none of them witnessed their presence. Sean kept a hold of her hand while he pulled her along behind him so he didn’t have to worry where she was, and could keep his attention on not being seen.
He moved swiftly, keeping his back hunched over, and she imitated his behavior even though it was unnecessary since she probably still stood shorter than he was making himself. She was caught up in the moment and experience told her she needed to keep silent and to do everything her guide did. The adrenaline rush she was feeling made time move slower than it actually was and in less than a minute Sean took them quietly through an orange service door.
On the other side there was a small platform and cement steps leading down. There were more of the same fluorescent lights with a few missing or burned out, which didn’t help Tara’s nerves and even Sean paused in consideration, before descending.
He didn’t speak until they got to the bottom where he told her there were a lot more spots and they were as solid black as the ones he had originally seen in the alley. Evidently hardly anyone came down here and Tara couldn’t blame them. Despite the fact they were looking for monsters, the basement could stand alone as the setting to some scary movie.
At the bottom of the stairs a five foot wide hallway stretched out in front of them. The floor was a continuation of the same material as the steps, but with a glossy finish thrown on to it reflecting distorted images of the lights above. The walls were made of plain grey cinder blocks and every few yards there was a dull beige door, most of which were on the right with the exception of one at the far end. Above their heads, past the suspended lights, were several pipes mostly meant for water, and a few that were power conduits.
Sean handed Tara back her boots without taking his eyes off of what lay ahead if them.
“As much as I don’t like how my feet are getting cold, maybe we should still stay in stealth mode.”
“I don’t think we’ll have to worry about noise for right now. None of the scents here are fresh and as near as I can tell no one’s bothered to come through here for days.” Tara’s nerves still didn’t feel quite comfortable with putting her boots back on, until Sean added, “I’d much rather be able to hear that you’re still behind me so I don’t have to keep checking over my shoulder.”
A moment later they were walking down the corridor, Tara trusting Sean could see where they had to go. She followed him all the way down to the last door on the left all the while trying to gain some courage from the way Sean was handling himself. He moved ahead with his keen senses on full alert and confident they weren’t in any danger, yet.
The door was unlocked and opened without the hinges making any eerie creaking sounds. Inside there were a couple of pallets with boxes on them some of which had toppled onto the ground, a cheap metal shelf holding cleaning supplies, a sink station for a janitorial mop and bucket, a floor buffer that hadn’t seen use in months or possibly even years, and an industrial sized water heater tank in the far corner with thick pipes connecting to it and heading straight up to the ceiling.
Sean only gave the room a cursory look and instead focused on the large grate in the center of the floor. He headed right over to it and Tara had a very bad feeling what that meant.
“Don’t tell me the trail goes down there,” she said, feeling very displeased.
“Okay. I won’t.”
Tara didn’t even laugh.
“The good news,” Sean added, “the trail is only coming out, not going in.”
“That doesn’t mean it’s safe. There could be traps or even other demonspawn.”
“Take it for what it’s worth.”
The grate was heavy but other than the metal weight there was no resistance as it came out of the floor. A clear sign the adhesive bond meant to hold it in place had already been broken, not an easy thing to do by hand and a good reminder to the both of them the physical strength of their prey. Sean poked his head through the hole first surveying the immediate area then swung his legs over the edge and using the only two rungs available to hang from before dropping the rest of the distance into the darkness below.
Tara was far more apprehensive and wanted to hear him say it was safe before she could find the nerve to lower herself down into the sewers. At first she couldn’t see and refused to let go of the last rung until her eyes could adjust to the dark despite Sean’s promises he would catch her.
“If it’s not that far then put your hand on my foot,” Tara tested him, but when she didn’t feel his touch and he told her he couldn’t reach her without jumping she started to panic and even tried to pull herself back up. Her grip wound up slipping and she fell. She was so scared she couldn’t even scream. True to his word, Sean was right there to catch her and he didn’t put her down until he was sure she was breathing again.
“At your age do you have to worry about heart attacks?” he asked, and even in the pitch black she could hear the teasing smile on his face.
“Shut up, or I’ll start back up with the dog jokes.”
“If it’ll help your nerves then you should,” he suggested and the tone of his voice was humorless.
Tara tried to think of something funny to say, but instead her mind fixated on how they were going to get back out. She couldn’t possibly cover the distance back up to the hole and she gave voice to their future problem.
“Don’t worry about it,” Sean told her. “If need be we’ll go back the way we came in.”
“How in the world are you going to get us back up there?” She demanded to know.
“I caught you, didn’t I? So if I tell you I’ll get you out of here, then trust me, I’m going to do what I said.”
“Take a deep breath,” he spoke calmly, “and don’t worry about it.”
Almost instantly Tara felt her fears get pushed to the back of her mind and she started to feel like her old self, clear and cool headed. She was astonished and could only guess that somehow Sean was responsible.
“How are you doing that?”
“I’ll tell you later. Right now I need you to be sharp and focused, so we don’t miss anything and if we do run into problems you don’t panic and make things worse.”
Tara was almost insulted by the brief lecture, but she saw he was speaking the truth. He had a good head on his shoulders and had it in mind to do what was necessary to keep them safe. So she closed her mouth and took his advice.
“Deal,” She agreed, “but I want a full explanation later.”
With that small matter settled Tara summoned a tiny glowing point of light a few inches above her outstretched hand. Slowly she poured more energy into it careful not to overtax the dampening affects of her bracelet. Even though it was capable of hiding the signature affects of a full strength spell she wanted to conserve her magic as much as possible because there was no telling what other surprises they might run into and how much the bracelet would have to filter. Gradually the dot became a flame the size of a quarter and she stopped it from growing any larger. Without the use of words, she concentrated on stabilizing the flickering fire and altered its energies so that it lost its heat properties and increased the amount of light generated.
Even though he was certain there were no immediate threats Sean kept watch while she created a light source for herself. It wasn’t that difficult of a spell and he had seen it done a couple times before much faster, but he understood Tara’s restrictions and the reason she took her time. In fact, from what Sean understood, casting such a simple spell slowly took more effort and skill than if she were to make it appear instantly. He considered it a testament to Tara’s ability.
The walls and ceiling curved around them in an elliptical shape and the floor in the middle had a squared-off trough cut into the middle of the floor to collect most of the debris and runoff. There was a fair amount of leaves and random pieces of garbage, and the air had a damp moldy smell with the hint of perhaps some kind of decomposing food, but overall the tunnel was much cleaner than either one of would have guessed.
Tara asked Sean to confirm he could still see the trail and to describe it to her. It was no longer black specks in the air and had become strips of flowing ribbons, thick in the middle and narrow at the ends. It gave him the impression of black snakes that rippled to some invisible current as though it were contained in a lava lamp.
He also informed her that he could still smell the faint remnants of what he imagined to be the other demonspawn, and although the scents were very old and he couldn’t be completely certain it seemed like there were only those five, and no others.
They only walked for about two minutes at which point Sean brought them to a halt and started to examine the nearby wall closely. He moved his hand along its surface, at times scratching it and leaning closer to smell.
“There’s blood on this wall,” he reported, “and the trail disappears through it.”
“Point exactly to the spot where there’s blood, and then let me see.”
Tara watched where he showed her and she didn’t take her eyes of the spot until she had her finger touching the same point. She released the ball of light with her other hand and it stayed hovering in the air as she pulled out of her pocket the same knife she had used before in the Trust Circle. She stuck the point of it into the tip of her finger creating a drop of blood which she brought into contact with the wall. She held herself there allowing her eyes to focus on patterns Sean could not see. Gradually a disgusted look spread across her face as she learned the truth of what lay in front of her and pulled her hand away scrubbing it against the side of her coat.
“That is so wrong,” she said as she turned away from the wall with the need to get it out of her sight.
“What did you find out?” Sean pressed her.
“It’s Necromancy.” Tara refused to look in Sean’s direction because that would put the wall back into her view. “Someone managed to twist a necromantic spell to imitate the affects of an illusion, and I don’t know if I’m more repulsed because I was touching dead flesh or that for a moment I found the application of such a concept fascinating.”
“Dead flesh? Like as in dead bodies?”
“Yes. It looks like at least three human bodies.”
Sean put his hand back on the wall to test what she was telling him, but just as before it felt as hard as any rock he had ever felt. He paid closer attention to what he was smelling and there was no indication to prove Tara’s claim.
“It still feels just like a wall to me.”
“Stop believing your eyes and other senses, and believe in what I’m telling you. It is a hole that has been plugged with corpses remolded to fit.
Sean put the tips of his fingers on the wall again and tried doing as Tara instructed. Even though he was repulsed by the thought of his hand on some kind of defiled remains, he held his ground. In a matter of a few seconds the hardness of the wall changed into something soft and squishy and shock made him retract his hand instantly.
“It… it still looks like a wall to me,” he confessed, but there was no longer certainty in his belief.
“You didn’t keep you hand on it long enough to convince yourself,” she told him still not facing in his direction. “The expression, “the ugly truth” fits this well. Even though it’s disgusting you have to face it if you want to be able to see it for what it really is.”
This time Sean prepared himself and put his hand back on the wall. He thought to himself several times over, “It’s not a wall. It’s human flesh,” and he forced himself to accept the truth. Right before his eyes the wall changed color and texture like it had suddenly grown a cancerous spot that spread rapidly across the surface. He was so shocked he didn’t notice his hand had broken the soft skin and was sinking as if he still expected the same resistance of stone.
Sean squeezed his fingers into a fist, grabbing a chunk and pulling it out. He stared at what he held in his hand, his eyebrows buckling and his mouth open with the lips curled back. He made a revolting sound and refused to inhale through his nose knowing he’d be assaulted by rotten flesh. He did his best not to think about what he had to do and sunk his hand into the wall, pulling out a larger piece, this one containing an eyeball with a stem of the optic nerve still hanging from it.
He bit his tongue to keep from throwing up, pushed his other hand in to do the same, and before long he had completely dug his way through the eight inch obstruction. A horrible pile of body parts, most unrecognizable, lay scattered behind him, and he thought to himself this had to be the worst task he’d ever done.
Sean looked over at Tara to see she hadn’t been able to keep from throwing up and was wiping her sleeve across her mouth. Despite her reaction she appeared to recompose herself quite affectively and approached the uncovered entrance with her usual professionalism. Together they looked into the hand carved tunnel and saw the ground was sloped downward and littered with the trampled bones of hundreds of rats and thousands of hollowed carcasses of bugs, mostly cockroaches. The tunnel was just tall enough for Sean to walk without his head touching the ceiling, but narrow to where they could only move single file. Sean lead the way, and they both took care in not touching the edges of the entrance because it was still moist and oozing with an occasional piece dripping off.
Tara felt another wave of calmness flood over her, but it didn’t feel as strong as before. She was fairly certain Sean was projecting his own emotions onto her, and the lack of conviction was due to the recent experience. What decent person could possibly perform such a vile task and not remained untouched by it. Despite the boost of confidence being weaker it was still successful in helping her to recenter and prepare herself for whatever they might find.
The surface in every direction was uneven and the dirt had been thoroughly packed. The air was thick with the smell of earth and the lack of oxygen increased the growing claustrophobia they both felt the further in they went. Neither one of them had ever had a paranoia of enclosed spaces but it was hard to ignore the confinement and the “what ifs” of a sudden cave in. There had to be a hundred feet of rock and dirt above their heads, not to mention concrete, pavement, tall buildings, and the constant vibrations of vehicles, people and all the many other moving parts of a city.
The words of Tara’s conditions for when they ought to turn around eagerly came to Sean’s mind. It was agreed at the first sign of danger they would turn back. In a blink of an eye they could become crushed and no one would even know where they were. In Sean’s opinion what they were doing certainly qualified as dangerous.
Just as Sean was about to voice his opinion he saw in the shadowy distance the tunnel opening up into something larger. A couple of steps further Tara confirmed the sighting and he kept his warning to himself. Once they reached the end the passageway opened up into a massive cavern at least a hundred feet across and with a forty foot domed ceiling. The floor was covered with fine sand of the quality one might find at the beach and all around the border of the room the surface had the appearance of hardened sandstone making the place seem as though it might be more structurally sound than the way they had come in.
Sean cautiously walked deeper into the cavern, and Tara moved up so they could be side by side. Before they could reach the halfway point of the room Sean began describing to Tara how the black aura he was tracking condensed just up ahead and all the strands seemed to culminate at one definitive point like the tentacles of an octopus with far too many appendages waving about. Looking at the convergence started to make him dizzy and the room felt like it was twisting with him standing sideways.
Before he knew it Tara had ripped the glasses from his face at the same time telling him to stop looking at the point of origin. When he got his bearings she explained that the point of origin was where this demon creature had crossed over into their dimension. When the fabric of one reality spilled over into another it would create a rift and even after it was closed the affects of it lingered long after. His seeing that echo was the equivalent to him having access to window into the chaotic realm of demons, and if a person stared into it for too long they would lose their minds.
As they passed the middle point of the cavern there was enough light to illuminate the far wall. There was a raised section of the floor attached to the back wall about ten feet wide making it seem like an ideal place for a performance. Center stage, embedded into the back wall was some kind of ornamental skull some twenty feet up above the floor, but when both of them got closer to see it in better detail they could tell it was more. The skull looked like a deformed humanoid with one half of its face grotesquely larger than the other and two large horns of equal size jutting forward out of the temples. There were also small spikes lining the ridgeline of things chin and a couple of exaggerated wide vertebrae descending below the skull as if they had been purposely pushed forward so that their front halves could be seen on display. From the base of the vertebrae there were all other kinds of bones of varying sizes and lengths all lined up to form the outline of a large arch with the skull being at the center of its apex.
The physical description of the bones and their arrangement, while strange, weren’t actually bad, but for some reason it still made his skin crawl. Sean couldn’t shake the grotesque feeling as though he were gazing upon a sea of hungry writhing maggots continually eating one another because there was nothing else to sustain such a horde.
Tara noticed how Sean was looking at the wall and even though she couldn’t detect anything beyond the ordinary she had a hunch Sean’s instincts were picking up something she couldn’t.
“What do you see?” she asked him.
“I don’t see anything, but it feels wrong, like the fact it’s here is…uh… defiling.” He struggled with the last word trying to find something that matched the description of how he felt, but even that word seemed inadequate.
Tara thought about what he said and considered everything she knew about were creatures, and werewolves in particular.
“Have you ever heard of the history of how weres came to be?” It was an odd thing to bring up, but Sean listened anyway. “I don’t believe everything about the stories, but there are parts of it that tend to prove themselves. One of the oldest tales passed down by word of mouth says that were creatures were created by a forbidden form of magic and their purpose was to counter a vampiric epidemic.
“What else do those stories say?”
“Oh, don’t bother with the rest of it. It’s just fantasy filler meant to entertain so that people will remember it and pass it on to the next generation. But, if we believe that long, long ago there was a problem with vampires running rampant then it could stand to reason that were creatures were created to be the solution and were instilled with the instincts to hunt down and kill vampires. In the archives of the Arcanus there are even older legends that say vampires were originally created before weres using a similar type of magic. I don’t believe those stories hold much truth either, but one interesting part springs to mind when I think how you’ve been responding to this demonic presence.
“Supposedly vampires were made by mixing elements of humans with demons. I know there were other things included in there as well, but those two things were the primary to the combination. If we consider that to be true then it might explain why you were driven to kill those demonspawn, and why you’re so sensitive to their presence.”
“Do other weres act the same way I do around demons?”
“Not to my knowledge, at least not to the degree you do.”
“Why am I different?”
“That could have something to do with what made you a werewolf to begin with.”
Sean was quiet for a while chewing on the ideas Tara was filling his head with and comparing them to what he knew about himself. The concepts were interesting, but he wasn’t ready to accept it as truth until he had the opportunity to hear the entire story himself. Maybe there were pieces Tara didn’t think mattered, but he might mean something to him.
“I have a special talent that only my mother knows about. All Wizards develop one kind of talent or another as they learn how to work with magic, and the more time passes the more evolved that talent becomes. I’ve done my best to not let others know what I can do so I can use it as a defense against rivals or potential enemies.”
Tara paused a moment to let Sean realize the implications of what she was telling him. He gave her a little nod acknowledging she was trusting him with her secret, and encouraging her to continue.
“My talent is that I can see auras. I’ve developed my own additional twist to it so my eyes can process into the visible spectrum magical energies. The fact that I can even do that makes me extremely valuable.”
“Wait… if you can see auras then why am I tracking for you?”
Tara sighed. “Because my senses aren’t as sensitive as yours and the ratio at which auras dissipate in relation to solid state matter…never mind. Just accept that you have heightened senses and I don’t. My point is that when I look at that wall I don’t see anything special about it. I feel like there should be. Maybe it should have a hint of some kind of old magical affect or have the properties of a dormant spell waiting to be activated, but I’m not picking up anything. You, however, seem to be sensing something I can’t, and whatever it is that information may be valuable in helping us figure out what’s going on here.”
Sean stared at the wall and its disturbing decoration, concentrating on whatever he could feel about it, despite the unsettling feeling he had in the center of his stomach. It felt a little like the twisting sensation he had experienced earlier, but more subtle and without the room warping around his perception.
“I feel like the way the bones are lined up it should be some kind of archway leading somewhere,” he winced as he explained what he thought. “Maybe it’s supposed to open up a portal to wherever demons come from. Doesn’t it look that way to you?”
The air wasn’t cold enough to make Tara shiver, but she did anyway with the hair on the back of her neck standing on end. She could tell Sean understood what he was implying was something really bad, but she doubted he could comprehend the immense magnitude of the problem if his guess was indeed accurate.
“Come on,” Tara told him as she turned around and headed straight for the exit. “I think we’ve seen enough. I need to inform my Elders right away. They’ll know how to destroy this place so it never becomes a problem.”
She did her best to keep her voice from shaking, but she doubted she was able to hide it well enough to convince Sean.
Last edited by SilentStrider (2010-12-28 04:05:35)
I love it, honestly. I am enjoying the way you are building up their relationship. It feels almost as if Sean and Tara are being forced into situations that would make normal people think they were a couple. Tara linked arms with Sean, then later on she Fell off of the ladder and Sean caught her, and just before that he promised to protect her. It seems like Sean was interested in Chris, hence his need to protect her as mentioned earlier, but he is most attracted to Dawn who also likes him, which leaves Tara off as the one he is most right for almost, it's like they are a puzzle piece that fits and at the same time doesn't. It's odd, but it seems like the more dangerous the situation gets the closer those three girls are going to become to Sean. I like the way it feels, the characters reacting in the way they are. It's leaving a constant question, "What's next?" which drives me nuts when I don't know, so I then need to know.
Can't wait for the next segments!! The story is really freaking awesome!!!
Last edited by clairsior818 (2010-12-28 04:55:49)
Knowing how you love this story is freaking awesome! It tells me I'm on the right track, so I can keep going full steam ahead.
The way you describe the relationship between the four of them is so accurate, and it is very much like a puzzle. When I'm typing away and working through a scene there are things these characters do that I don't even plan for and sometimes it surprises me. For example, when Tara linked arms with Sean, I understood she was feeling afraid in anticipation of what they might run into, and her latching onto Sean's arm was such a natural reaction I typed it out before I had time to think about it. I feel like it's those little things that really make these characters feel alive. I have the outline all planned out and I know the events that are to happen, but I don't always know what each of them are going to do when I actually start typing it out. Sometimes I even have their actions all planned out step by step for a particular scene, but when I get around to typing it I discover what I have planned doesn't work. Next thing I know events are unfolding and my characters start moving through the scene of their own accord completely ignoring the script.
In this most recent scene we got a good glimpse of Sean's knight-like qualities and I wasn't expecting that, but I was very pleased with how it turned out. Just like your anticipating, as the story progresses there's going to be some very interesting push and pull affects on the relationship they all share with one another and in the end their bond will be... solid... memorable... it's difficult to find the right word to describe it because it's not a simple puzzle. I can't completely see the whole picture, but I know how it feels, and as I'm filling in the words, connecting it piece by piece, everything starts falling into place.
Check here again late tonight or early morning and I should have another part posted, and with any luck the beginnings of the next chapter. We'll have to see how productive my day turns out.
Also, thank you Clair! I'm really grateful that you're reading this story.
Last edited by SilentStrider (2010-12-28 14:14:33)
You know I just realized I didn't have my email selected to be visible in the personal options. In case anyone wanted to contact me that way, well now you can
Hahaha your welcome!! I love this story, of course I would be reading it!!! How could I not?!
Okay! I managed to finish up chapter 15 tonight, and just had enough time to brush it up so that it would be readable. There are a couple of things I'll go back and spruce up eventually, but I really, really wanted to get to you guys as I promised I would. I don't like pointing out things I feel I should correct before you even have the chance to read what's here, but in this particular case I will in the hopes it will help with reading and understanding the materiel. In this post we pick up from Bannon's point of view and I show where he is presently, but then he reflects on the past and we are privy to some behind the scene events that have already happened. The post following this one continues the story with him and we are brought back to present events. I hope that makes things a tad bit easier to follow.
Read. Enjoy. Comment.
Bannon had had a hard life, but he was done feeling sorry for himself. He was taking matters into his own hands. No one wanted to continue his training so he strained his abilities until he was able to come up with other sources more than willing to share knowledge with him for the right price.
As of that moment he was standing above the late Elder Eli, now a dried up husk of her former self. She looked more like a well preserved mummy than the stunning woman she had been a few hours ago. He had never actually killed anyone before and her death had happened quite accidently. All he had done was touch her, and she completely shriveled up while he sucked her life force dry.
Bannon surprised himself by how little remorse he felt at what he had done. It was just further reinforcement of how far he had come in divorcing himself from even considering himself human. Oh, genetically he was still as human as everyone else. It was more a matter of self perception and disassociating himself with the rest of his kind. If others knew how he felt, surely they would say he was sick in the head, but he didn’t’ care. Their opinions no longer mattered to him much like he seemed to no longer matter to them.
It had just turned dark before he carried the Elder’s body off into the woods using the night to conceal his presence. Her real name was Elizabeth, and it was what she preferred to be called by everyone instead of her official title. She was a little taller than most women and might have weighed a hundred and ten pounds at most, but now she was probably closer to twenty. There was nothing left of her but skin and brittle bones, which was probably the ideal figure she wished she could’ve achieved while alive.
“Wish granted,” he said for his own amusement, although he felt none.
He bent lower to the ground, grabbing her forearm and easily broke it off at the elbow joint. He needed to do something with the body and since it was structurally ruined there was no practical purpose in keeping it so he had to get rid of the body. Better to hide her before someone discovered her dead and raised the alarm. And what better way to dispose of it than to practice using his new innate abilities on the very person who had given it to him.
Elizabeth had been a Sorceress gifted with healing which meant she could only work a few spellcastings, but she could do it nearly as often as she wanted and never feel the strain. It also meant she never needed to memorize trigger words, patterns in which to wave her hands or require materials for the healings she could perform. In addition to her magical abilities she was also a well practiced doctor and had learned a lot about the human body. Knowledge that Bannon now enjoyed for himself. He smiled with the thought on how he might be able to apply that to his own particular trade.
He was well versed with the fact that all magic had a positive and a negative aspect and he was disappointed Elizabeth hadn’t explored the flipside to her ability. It took Bannon nine attempts until he was able to get a result, and he needed guidance from the voice inside his head, but when he finally figured out how to make it work, it was a very satisfying and empowering feeling, like the rush of a drug.
The mummified hand crumbled to dust so fine that the particles practically vanished before they even reached the ground. With a little more practice he was sure he’d be able to use this part of his new abilities at a moment’s notice, and there was plenty of material for him to practice on. He snapped off another section and struggled less with facilitating its decomposition.
As he worked in destroying the body he reflected on recent events. The last thing he remembered before waking up in the recovery room was how he planned on making Viasa his first test subject and how he had intended on absorbing her life force first, but the crazy woman anticipated his actions and had taken a potion that destabilized the energies of her body. If he had been foolish enough to absorb her then he too would’ve died from the affects. He was so infuriated with the hag he wanted to make her suffer, but she had managed to close the vaults door entombing the both of them. With her last breath she had told him he was going to die soon and the world would be better for it.
He was so mad at her all he could think of was how badly he wanted to use his skills in the worst way possible on her dead body, but the voice forced him to realize if he gave into his desire he would waste crucial air and the time required to learn a technique that could preserve his life. Following the instructions of the voice he discovered how to disconnect enough of his own lifeforce to put himself into a coma, and how to reconnect with it after a set time had passed.
When he had awoken he was lying in a hospital gurney with Elizabeth standing over him taking his vitals. Without even thinking he latched onto her, desperately gulping her essence as though he had been in the desert for too long and could think of nothing but water to quench the intolerable thirst. Before he could think coherently again the woman he held onto was dangling from the side of his bed with her arm firmly locked in his hand like a prison shackle.
He had never felt more powerful in his life then as of that very moment. He had discovered yet another new method in which to apply his one and only field of magic in a way that could help him attain abilities that encompassed all fields. Bannon knew then what the voice had promised was true. This was how he was going to get what he wanted, and the Arcanus would be remade as he saw fit.
“Forty-five years!” he thought to himself. “Those self-righteous pompous bastards tried to hold me back for forty-five years.”
“But no longer,” the powerful voice assured him. Every time it spoke it made his head swell with pressure and his brain feel like it was swimming in a pool of rich black oil. “They will have no choice but to respect you, but know the powers you have absorbed will fade in time. However, I know how you can make them permanent.”
“Not so many words or I’ll remove you from my head!” Bannon felt lightheaded and could see spots on the edges of his vision. He could only handle limited doses of the alien thoughts before it grew unbearable. “If you want to ever be free from your imprisonment then you will respect me!”
“Of course, master”
“How long will I have these additional powers?”
“Until her life force dissipates.”
“How long is that in terms of time?”
“Then I should make preparations to take the village now before I’m found out.”
“This is your task. Become worthy. Earn your powers.” It communicated slowly, maintaining a tolerable level as it had been ordered.
Bannon wanted nothing more than to know everything there was about necromancy. He had come a long way since the beginning of his original naive plans. He remembered how pure his intentions had been and how he wanted to redefine how the world saw his particular talents as nothing but a sinister form of magic. But later he learned people were too stupid and allowed irrational emotions to dictate their lives. He had been doing so well and was close to earning his apprenticeship. If it hadn’t been for that one major slipup he might still be pursuing an impossible endeavor.
He and Jacob, who had been his best friend when they were young adults, got into a heated discussion about the merits of necromancy and the possibility of the Council of Elders putting a law into affect that would cause a whole cascade of events, eventually putting it onto the list of forbidden magic. Their verbal argument became a physical one, and his friend, who was twice his size, was easily getting the better of him. At which point Bannon figured it was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate his unique method of healing. He took some of Jacob’s health, transferring his injuries to the big man while his wounds disappeared. Needless to say they were no longer friends after their violent disagreement, which suited Bannon just fine. Jacob was beginning to succumb to the same beliefs everyone else had about his arcane talents, and the last thing he wanted was to trust someone who didn’t have his back.
It didn’t help matters that necromancy was a hot topic at the time and the entire incident received more attention than it would have otherwise. Somehow the preceding against his field of magic were overturned, mostly due to the Tribunal being united against the proposed restrictions. Because of Bannon’s untimely accident he had received swift and harsh punishment forbidding him from practicing his art and he had been paying the price of his mistake ever since.
For the longest time he wished he could go back and change that one event, and for a couple of years he even tried to research the possibility of actually creating a temporal distortion that would let him do such a thing. Unfortunately he lacked the proper resources, his access to the archives was restricted and he couldn’t find a single person willing to help him. Any kind of time alteration was considered a dangerous thing and only the desperate ever attempted it, the successful ones vanishing, never to be heard from again.
He was liked by no one. Respected by no one. All he could do was disappear and wait for the world to forget him so that he could have a chance to start anew, but he was too weak. He lacked the strength to cut himself off from society, and craved the intellectual stimulation that he accepted as the byproduct.
He’d never admit it to anyone, including himself, but the most painful part to his entire experience had been the lack of human contact. No one wanted to touch him anymore, and it wasn’t difficult to understand why.
Bannon used to count the months he’d go without the feel of another person’s touch. He gave up keeping track after exceeding five years. What was the point any way?
A hopeful pat on the back, a simple courtesy of a handshake, anything at all might have done something to help keep him from becoming a bitter and cynical example of a man, but now he felt less human than he had ever been. He gave up on trying to play things by their rules. He was going to pave his own way using whatever means were available to him and rid himself of any moral hindrance.
The past few years he practiced the art of demonology, which turned out to be very compatible to his magic. He practiced every precaution and was meticulously careful with the summonings. His circles were always more powerful than the demons he summoned and he had safe guards upon safe guards and fail safes stacked on fail safes in case of something unforeseen happening. He even invented a few tricks of his own that allowed him to apply unimaginable pain to demons, coercing them into providing the knowledge he craved. He was quite proud of his achievement to, but it was painstakingly slow, and being careful not to get caught only further delayed the entire process.
That’s how things were until that night Elder Etienne approached him with the proposition of accompanying her to Louisville to investigate a possible disturbance. The only indication he had of what to expect was her telling him his talents in the dark arts might prove useful in uncovering clues, if any were to be found. He knew her daughter resided in that city and suspected she was responding to some request she had made, and they left immediately. Since he had also become the village’s new liaison he was expected to be worldly and a valuable asset to other elders when leaving the village. It was his job to stay up to date on all world events and the ever changing culture, which included laws, customs and technology.
Most of their journey was pleasantly silent with the Elder occasionally attempting to strike up a conversation. Bannon put on his good face and pretended to listen, but if a response was required by him he kept the amount of words he used to a bear minimal preferring single syllables. They arrived late at night, more than twenty-four hours after the supposed occurrence. He had his doubts they would find anything, but once they entered the alley his attention was snapped into focus when he discovered the familiar ambience left behind from the physical form of a demon returning to its home plane. He was so unprepared for what he found he mistakenly spoke before he could decide to keep the information to himself.
They scoured the area for clues. As near as they could tell there had been demonspawn present and they all were violently dispatched. Utilizing his affinity with life and death he could conjecture one of the things had even made a successful grab at ripping someone’s soul out, but with the lack of disturbance it didn’t seem the demonspawn had been successful in its attempt. Surrounding that very point Eteinne told him she could detect a very powerful type of protection magic like she had never seen before, and it was encased within a shell of distinct negative divination. The later type of magic was designed to prevent the detection of the triggered safeguard effects, but it was specifically meant to block a single individual.
For them to be able to see these left over magical properties simply hanging in the air without their physical focus present, the energies had to be very powerful. Bannon desperately wanted to learn more, but he hid his feelings and upon Etiennes’s suggestion they found a hotel room to spend the night. Their plan was to contact her daughter first thing in the morning to find out what she knew, and maybe that’s what they would’ve done if it hadn’t been for his unusual visitor.
Bannon was going to wait for Etienne to fall asleep before returning to the spot, but a cockroach on the floor in front of his bed stopped him. It was missing a leg and one of its antennas was broken in the middle, but the most important feature was the chilled feeling he had behind his eyes when he looked at the thing. He suspected demonic possession, and it was either a demon with a pitiful amount of strength or a desperate attempt to make contact with him. Either way he wasn’t going to make the mistake of underestimating the tiny thing.
He drew a pentagram on his palm and offered it to the bug to crawl onto. The fact it went willingly was a sure sign it needed something badly and he was probably its best chance to achieve whatever that was. That little fact made Bannon smile. What he held in his hand was the equivalent to a wish, but the downside was it was limited by the power of the demon which apparently wasn’t promising.
Customarily a demon would present itself with a riddle for the summoner to figure out its name. It was common for a demon to have more than one name and the riddle was a way to test the extent of the summoner’s knowledge. Bannon was very knowledgeable, and he knew who he was talking to before it completed the first sentence. It was a major demon many had called “The Destroyer”, but to him he knew it as Shiva.
For more than a thousand years this demon had gone missing. It’s last known whereabouts was a ritual in which some nameless cult was trying to summon it, but they were interrupted by the Knights of Merlin, and since then it had never been heard of again. Neither humans nor demons knew what happened to Shiva precisely, at least not until now. It had been in the process of crossing over when the rift had collapsed. It was presumed Shiva had been torn apart, completely removed from existence, but as the bug whispered the truth, Bannon quickly learned it had been caught between worlds as if it was imprisoned in a pocket dimension of nothingness. It took centuries for Shiva to eventually force the tiniest fraction of its power through the barrier between worlds and it wasn’t even enough to take possession of a lowly bug.
It was entertaining to hear how the Destroyer had been defeated by a cockroach. Countless years passed before it had enough strength to take the control of insects, and even more years passed before it had the capability of dominating more sophisticated life forms such as rats. Those things never lived long and it burned through their lifeforce rapidly. It wasn’t until recently circumstance had turned in its favor and the creatures it had enslaved had been able to dig a hole to the surface where it had been able lure a curious human tricking him into allowing a lower demon to possess him. It built upon that, but then everything came falling apart when a were creature sent his minions screaming back to the Abyss. It was being forced to start back at square one, and having observed Bannon’s presence, was hopeful it could strike a deal to facilitate its freedom.
That night the bug had whispered in his ear a plan and shared some secrets before it’s lifeforce had been consumed. He learned how to create a type of incense that was within his abilities to make, and when the smoke was inhaled it made a person very susceptible to suggestions. Bannon wasted no time in applying it to Eteinne and while she slept he whispered into her ear convincing her they had found nothing in the alley and they should return home in the morning.
Etienne left the next day without even informing her daughter she had been there, and Bannon stayed behind using the excuse of having to conduct some business in regards to his responsibilities as liaison. He found the excavated tunnel in the sewers leading to the chamber the demon had been trapped in and worked out a deal for power in exchange for its freedom on the condition it returned to the Abyss upon its release. The demon provided him a means in which to keep in contact and Bannon forced it to agree to remain in concealment. It even helped provide the bodies he needed to cover up the hole leading to the buried chamber.
That had been nearly three weeks ago and he had been in coma for a third of that time. He didn’t like feeling rushed, and would’ve rather had seen what other things he could learn, but circumstances dictated he needed to make his move now before anyone knew what was going on. He had excellent foresight and was very aware of how quickly things could spin beyond his control which could work in the demons favor making him more reliant on it to pull him out of trouble. Bannon was wise to such tactics and was able to plan for a way to stabilize his current position so that no one outside of the village would know for quite some time what he was doing.
The first thing he had to do was to elevate his influence over Elder Etienne and dominate her conscious mind. To do that he would need to craft a trinket made of his own bone, a task less daunting with his newly acquired powers.
Last edited by SilentStrider (2010-12-29 02:46:24)
This wraps up chapter 15
He walked confidently back to his tiny home. He hardly spent any time there and used it as a convenient storage place. It was more like a backyard shed that people labeled as his place of residence and if someone had broken in he didn’t think he’d ever notice or care. The things he truly valued were kept hidden in a hollowed out burrow miles away from the village. He dug the place out himself and designed it to suit his personal interests. He’d be going to that place soon, right after his visit with Etienne.
Everything he needed was right here and he tore through his place like a madman searching for a specific tool before he had the chance to think about what he was about to do. He found the meat cleaver. He put his finger on the table. The blade rose above his head. Down it came with a solid thunk.
The shock kept him from registering the pain.
Bannon lifted the hand in front of his face still imagining it was someone else’s and touched the finger stump with his other hand, willing it to heal. He didn’t need to practice the positive side of this power’s aspect since its former owner had been well versed in using it and her experiences were now his. Right before his eyes the finger bone grew like watching a plant do the same in fast motion. As it extended from the stump the muscle tissue climbed up it like red fibrous vines and the skin covered that like a smooth layer of mold. Only near the end did his brain start to process he was supposed to be feeling pain, but by then the worst was already over and he could tolerate it.
He looked at the finger for a moment to appreciate the demented irony of how the sight of it disturbed him only slightly more than the act of murdering someone. Certainly taking a life was more heinous than self mutilation. He supposed the feelings were the result of caring more about himself than others. He shrugged his shoulders with disinterest and dismissed the pointless thought. He had work to do and that’s what mattered.
In less than an hour he had boiled the flesh off the bone until it was sizzling in its own juices absorbing the solution he had made as prescribed by the demon. A minute more and he attached a strip of leather to it so it could be worn like a necklace with the bone fragment easily hiding under a shirt.
If it had been three years ago he might look at his creation, marveling at what he had accomplished, but he had changed so much since then. The world had become a much smaller place in his mind. There was so much more he could do, so much more he could be. He viewed himself as still taking baby steps in the direction he wanted to go, which was fine by him. How he started out was important, and a crucial aspect to building anything was to have a sound, firm foundation.
He took his time walking down the street appearing lost in thought. There was no immediate rush, and if anyone saw him they would suspect nothing. It was a common sight for him to be seen more active at night. It was an expectation people felt comfortable labeling him with. Once again, another fine example of how stupid they all were.
He felt quite at ease walking up the steps of the front porch to the Elder’s house, yet another thing no one would question. Ever since he and Etienne had returned from Louisville they had been seen engaged in more than one conversation calmly debating one topic or another. A month ago that sight certainly would’ve raised eyebrows, but the people had time since then to get used to the change; enough so what he was doing wasn’t out of place.
He knocked on the door and the short woman only took a few seconds in answering. She opened the door a little surprised to see him this late at night when most people were beginning to wind down and get ready for bed, but she wasn’t disturbed, and welcomed him inside.
He waited until after she had closed the door and was certain that no one could see them from outside before he presented her his gift. This too was already planned for, and he had conditionalized her mind so that she would view the bone pendant as something she would accept gratefully. She gladly put it over her head and around her neck right in front of him to show how much she appreciated the present
That was it. She willingly accepted it. He now had complete control over her.
She started to explain to him something that had happened to her during the day she found interesting, but Bannon told her to her shut up. She did without hesitation. She looked up at him with surprise and confusion.
“You will listen to everything I say, obey all of my commands; not just the literal words but the spirit of what I say as well.”
He saw her arms start to rise as if she were about to go through with the motion of covering up her ears. It only took her a split second to realize she couldn’t, and she started to turn in order to run away from him. She might have had more of a chance if she attacked him, but of course it wouldn’t be her first impulse. Bannon was supposed to be her friend and she didn’t want to hurt him.
“Sit down. Stay quiet. Do not move from that spot,” he told her before she could complete her first step.
She did so without making a sound. This some four hundred year odd old Sorceress sat on the ground with her legs tucked underneath her. She looked up at him, eyes wide and her lower lip ever so slightly quivering.
“Do nothing until I release you from where you are.”
She was considered to be powerful; skilled in Evocation and Protection. They were the ideal combinations for a warrior of magic. Etienne was even one of the Knights of Merlin, and quite possibly a member of Merlin’s Order, but if she was it had to be kept a secret. That lot policed the internal workings of the Arcanus, protecting it from itself.
Bannon was viewed as a nobody; thought of to remain a novice for the rest of his life. In his eyes she looked more pitiful than a newly initiated having discovered for the first time magic was real.
He circled around her once like a bird of prey watching her struggle, desperately trying to figure a way out of her situation. When he returned to the front of her he could see how the feeling of dread had overtaken her expression. She was beginning to understand how helpless she was.
With the next five minutes he gave her a well prepared litany of commands that she had to follow. He programmed her, telling her how she could never do anything to hurt him and had to do everything in her power to protect him even if as a last resort that meant sacrificing herself. He told her she had to preserve her own life as well as long as in doing so she didn’t jeopardize his own. He even gave her instruction on how she was supposed to feel, and was very impressed he had that much influence over her.
She was totally under his control. Shiva even whispered a few suggestions of things to say to make his hold on her more complete. He spent the next half hour testing her with another well thought out list of commands to ensure she couldn’t find any loop holes. Spending time with demons and learning their devious ways of interpreting commands to suit themselves was helping him greatly.
In the kitchen he heard a phone ring. It was an unexpected sound.
“Who’s calling you at this hour?” he asked her.
Etienne went into the kitchen with Bannon following, and she looked at the digital display of the phone mounted on the wall.
“It’s my daughter,” she smiled pleasantly. There wasn’t the slightest hint of her even thinking of how she might be able to use this as an opportunity to escape. She looked at him waiting for permission to answer the phone like it was common routine.
“Don’t give her any reason to suspect that I’m here. Let me hear the conversation as well. Go ahead and answer the phone.” Bannon was also well aware that the order in which commands were given was very important. If had started by telling her to answer the phone with a list of conditions following she would have picked up the phone while he was talking to her giving her daughter a chance to hear a voice that shouldn’t be there.
“Hello sweetie,” Etienne spoke into the receiver. “What are you doing calling at this hour?”
“Mom, I have a problem.” There was a grave seriousness in her voice, and the pair listened more closely.
“What’s wrong?” her mother asked with concern.
“You’re the only person I can trust and I need your help.”
“Of course I’m here for you. Tell me what you need me to do.”
“Remember the attack three weeks ago on my friend Chris? I found out that it was demonspawn related, and it wasn’t just one… there were five.”
“How can that be? We arrived the day after. If what you say is true then surely I would’ve been able to verify that.” Etienne spoke with conviction. She acted and sounded like she completely believed in what she was telling Tara.
“Mom, listen to me carefully, I’m not sure how, or what he did, but I think Bannon may have done something to cover up any evidence, and he may have even done something to you to make you believe it.”
“Bannon?” she chuckled lightly, reassuring her daughter that it was a ridiculous idea. “I don’t know if I can believe that.”
“Regardless of what you believe just promise me you’ll get yourself checked out.”
“Hmm… Since you feel that strongly about it then I promise.”
“There’s more, and this may be the worst of it all.” Etienne listened, treating her daughter seriously. “I found this ritualistic chamber underground and it looks like it could be really bad”
“What do you mean? How bad are you talking about?”
“It looks like if someone knew what they were doing, and was stupid enough to even try it, they could open a stable portal from our world into Hell or even the Abyss.”
“What? Do you even realize what you’re saying? A stable portal between those dimensions…? First off the amount of power to make that happen is so enormous I can’t even begin to formalize what would be required, and secondly that dimension and ours are so dissimilar there’s no possible way they can touch in that manner.”
“I don’t care if you think it can be done or not. Demonspawn were here. There’s a demonic site below the city. Those facts alone should warrant the full attention of the Arcanus. No one is going to take what I say seriously so that’s why I need you to tell other people. Before you ask your next question I can tell you I am more than a hundred percent certain of what I’ve seen. I would stake everything I hold precious on that.”
“Tara, you’re my daughter. If you know what you say is true, then you word is as good as fact to me. I will look into this matter right away and deal with it swiftly.”
“Don’t forget to have yourself checked out first like you promised.”
“You have my word.”
“And mom… please, hurry.”
There was a lingering moment of silence before either one of them hung up, and a questionable look of sadness on Etienne’s face.
She looked at Bannon with worry etched at the corner of her eyes. “Do you think we have to worry about her ruining everything?”
“I highly doubt that,” he told her matter-of-factly. “She’s a Wizard prohibited from spellcasting, and many consider her to be inappropriately stubborn and an extremist in her views. She can do nothing and no one will take her seriously. She’ll be very easy to remove if she becomes a problem, but I’d rather not do that if we don’t have to. I have plans for her and her friends.
“She made me promise that I should have myself examined and you may have done stuff to me to influence my thoughts. Have you?”
“Absolutely, but that’s our little secret. Isn’t it?”
Etienne laughed softly like she and Bannon were old familiar friends and they were sharing a joke that only they would understand.
“Make some tea. We need to make preparations and I have to go over the details with you.”
She proceeded to do so without any complaints, and as if her actions were completely normal. Bannon sat down at the small kitchen table and started to think of all the necessary things that had to happen to convince Tara all would be well and the Arcanus would deal with her perceived problems. He considered the advice Shiva had whispered in his ear.
“Prevent detection. Consolidate your strength.”
Last edited by SilentStrider (2011-01-01 05:37:08)
Almost forgot to say one last important thing in case I don't get the chance later...
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Last edited by SilentStrider (2010-12-29 03:01:34)
Awesome segments!!! I can identify with Bannons character really well, having had a similar experience where people treated me as something vile, or I should say to be completely accurate, as something demonic. A church I went to for a long time believed I was demonically possessed and or the child of a demon in general (thanks to my dad) which made me evil. They didn't specify, but it sucked balls. I quit going to that church.
Anyways.... Happy New Year!!! Interesting choice of Demons to use, definitely outside of the box. Using Shiva instead of the cliched normal ones like Asmodeus, or Beelzebub. It's a nice choice D