The GatheringFandom (is so, include details) or Non Fandom?:
Non Fandom (ie. Original)Chapter Number:
M (due to language & adult content... not entirely sure where this thing is going)Summary:
In 1692 a group of witches sacrificed their powers to prevent death. Almost 3.5 centuries later, these powers have befallen new generations. Those that would be heroes are lost. It is up to those who are left behind to save themselves & the world they're in.Author's Notes:
:O and I got somewhere! *cheers*Chapter Nine
The first rays of light filtered through the high windows, drawing lines like warm fingers across her face. Stirring, Mercy drew her hand down the sheets of her bed, her eyes bleary as she slowly opened them. She was still dressed in the same attire she had worn the night before, having returned back to the coven retreat exhausted, annoyed and spent. She’d found nothing but walls in her search for Marcus Ravelle. It didn’t help that Danny had abandoned her halfway through the night to pursue his own goals. She could tell from his voice that he had tired of the chase long before she had. Frustration was something her fiancé did not easily deal with.
Passing a hand over her eyes she began to discern that which was in the room. A chair to the right, a white robe hanging on the back of the door undisturbed, a set of drawers to the left of her bed filled with nothing but files of upcoming targets. Her clothes were stacked neatly within the three slide-out compartments beneath the bed, unusual for her as the floor usually contained one or two items stray. And Danny, he was nowhere to be seen. There wasn’t a single indication he had been in the room.
Mercy lifted herself up and took a better look at her surroundings. She definitely had been alone for the rest of the night. Even though he did have his own room, Danny would often sneak into hers in the dead of night and spend his time there. It had always been that way for near on a decade, and made her uncomfortable to recognize that familiarity wasn’t there.
Her hand brushing over the ankle of her leather boots, checking the laces were still fastened securely, she slipped off her bed and headed towards the door. Walking down the hallway she attempted to smooth her hair, gathering it to the side as her hands coursed down to the ends. She stopped outside Danny’s doorway and keyed in the five digit code on his keypad – five numbers which on a phone device just happened to spell out her name. It was no coincidence she knew – Danny was terrible at remembering minute details. Bending slightly, she lined her eye up with the laser that would scan her retina, then stood and folded her arms as she waited for the voice activation device to kick in. The Phoenix’s were secure, if nothing else, though Mercy often had to wonder how they would even get into their rooms in a hurry if there was trouble out in the hallway.
“Please identify yourself,” the automated voice requested.
“Mercy Lewis,” Mercy returned.
It paused for a moment, as if attempting to act human by pretending to think about whether it recognized the name. “Identity confirmed. Access authorized.”
“Thank you,” Mercy said disparagingly as the door opened. A sense of relief washed over her as she saw the back of her fiancé within. The feeling was quickly dashed by irritation as he did not turn to acknowledge her presence, instead absorbed with pulling and emptying drawers onto his bed, digging haphazardly through the contents. “Hi Mercy, how are you? Sorry I abandoned you through the night but did you find Marcus Ravelle? Well no, Danny, it was a little hard to spread myself across the entire city when my partner runs off in the middle of the night without explaining where he’s going.”
Danny paused with enough time to glare over his shoulder at her before continuing what he was doing. He grabbed a thick wad of papers from the pile and threw the file backwards. Mercy jumped back out of the way before they hit her, allowing them to slap into a scattered mess on the ground. Growling to himself, Danny yanked the last of his drawers from the bedside table and dumped the contents onto the growing mound on his bed.
“Where the fuck is it?” he cursed.
“Where is what?” Mercy asked, dashing out of the way again.
“The key that opens that fucking cupboard in the fucking sanctuary so I can blow his head off!”
“What?” Mercy asked, both confused and concerned now. She grabbed his arm and spun him towards her. “Danny. Baby, calm down.”
She placed a hand against his cheek, felt the dimple in his flesh around his neck. There were no physical marks there, which wasn’t a good sign. His clothes, she noted, were rumpled. His dark slacks held an even darker stain around his thigh. He was not limping nor did he show any other signs that he was injured… which could only mean one thing. He had reconstituted. Reconstitution was the most painful self-imbued power in existence, and like a curse all Phoenix witches bore it and no other. It was like physically, emotionally and mentally being sent to hell for thousands of years within a matter of seconds while your destroyed body took its time reassembling itself. It was facing death and being reborn all over again. This did not give the Phoenix’s immortality however – they could still succumb to any usual prescriptions for death. The power only served as a flame retardant blanket – they could not burn to death, nor could they be disassembled by magical explosions. They would simply suffer the agony of the pain, their bodies disintegrating to ash, before their remains would displace themselves to a more secluded area where they could rebuild anew. The origin of the power went all the way back to the seventeenth century when Margaret Jane Larkin, Danny’s ancestor, was the first to use it. With every generation that passed, the ability only grew in strength and with so many descendants in the Phoenix clan it no longer provided the wonder it had four centuries ago.
“He’s as fucked up as that kid says he is,” Danny continued aggressively.
“What did he do to you?” Mercy asked, moving her hand to his chest and placing it over his heart. It brought her reassurance to feel it beating under her palm, knowing that she could have almost lost her fiancé without being aware of the danger he was in. “Was it Marcus?”
“I didn’t go after Marcus. I went after the book,” he explained. “We needed it, Mercy. We screwed up last night.”
“That doesn’t mean you have to walk into a death trap,” she said.
“I knew it felt too easy. I walked right in; I was right there. I touched the damn thing!”
“But you didn’t get it,” Mercy guessed.
“No. The fucker caught me off-guard. I shouldn’t have hesitated. I underestimated how strong he was.”
“You’re talking about Christian’s brother. David,” Mercy finally realized. The look upon his face told her she was right. “Are you sure it was him?”
“Looks like an angel, acts like a devil. It was him alright.”
“But you’re okay?” she inquired with concern.
“After being strangled, stabbed and burnt to death, I’m just peachy.”
“I should go after him.”
“You are not going after him,” Danny said, fastening his hand around her wrist before she could move away. “We’re fighting magic with magic. Dark magic. Where’s the Grimoire?”
“At my mother’s,” Mercy replied cautiously.
“Get it,” Danny insisted. His order was met with the same obstinacy she had shown the previous night.
“I am not going back there.”
“Mercy, we need it,” Danny said. “If you don’t get this, he’ll only get stronger. Imagine if all this came down. There’ll be nothing left. We need to stop it. Now.”
Her eyes softened and he leaned down, nudging her nose with his, lowering his lips to press against hers. They held a commitment, an alliance, and ultimately knew that either one of them would do the best they could to ensure the safety of the other; even if it meant facing the terrors of their past.
“I won’t be long,” she said.
Mercy had not seen her mother in more than a decade, not since the woman had abandoned her to the coven back in her teenage years. Mercy had endured all kinds of horror throughout her initiation. She hadn’t known what it felt like to kill someone until then. Her mother had lied to her and deceived her for as long as she could remember, leaving her young daughter to fend for herself while she absorbed all kinds of prestige for her actions in and out of the coven. They thought so highly of her sacrifice that they allowed her to live off the range in a small downtown apartment where she could better monitor the public for them and attract new clients.
Although it should have been like any other mission, there was a certain foreboding that hung in the air as the young Phoenix climbed the stairs. The door was not locked, as per daylight trading hours, which allowed her easy access into the apartment. The hallway took two directions at the entry – to the left were the bedrooms and the bathroom, the one she still envisioned in a bloody mess from the moment after her first kill where she had tried to take her own life, and to the right was the living room and the open plan extension of the kitchen. Between the bland beige couch and the dark maple walls of the open bench, sitting just beneath the watercolour painting of a boat beached on the harbour shore, was her mother. Across the glass table was a dark-haired man, his back to Mercy, who was exchanging paperwork with her mother.
“We can’t guarantee that there will be a hit placed tonight, Mister Langdon. You must understand that to carry out our jobs effectively there is a high degree of research and study involved. You will need to allow at least fourteen days from your signature on this paperwork before we can bring you satisfactory results,” Anna Lewis explained.
“What if you can’t get to him?” the man questioned.
“We can get to anyone,” Anna said, giving her most charming smile. “Trust me. I’m a professional.”
“I wouldn’t,” Mercy said, her hand brushing over the shelving. “Her word isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”
“If you don’t mind, I’m with a client here,” Anna said, her polished tone dipping momentarily into aggravation at the interruption.
“Well, actually, I do mind. You’re about twelve years overdue from seeing me.”
“Mr Langdon, I’m sorry,” Anna apologized, standing and reorganizing the paperwork on the table. “Can we take this up another time? Tomorrow, perhaps?”
“Or you could just keep ignoring me,” Mercy suggested. “Isn’t that where you really excel?”
Pulling a book from the shelf, she glanced at the cover then tossed it onto the floor. Purposefully she took another pile of books, all with completely modernized glossy covers, and cast them aside also.
“Perhaps another time would be best,” Mr Langdon agreed. Gathering his belongings, he gave Mercy a wide berth as he headed back towards the front door.
“Mercy Evangeline Lewis, you stop this right now!” Anna demanded. She slapped her hand down on the table. Momentarily it glowed yellow before the energy diffused back into her palm. “You could have just lost me a client!”
“Now you know what it’s like to lose something.”
“I lost your father twenty-five years ago, don’t tell me I don’t know how to lose!”
“In case you forgot, I lost him too,” Mercy pointed out. “I don’t understand how you can be such a willing servant to men that killed him.”
“You tell me, Mercy. You’re the one working for them.”
“At least I’m not bedding them for kicks.”
Anna turned her head to the side, tongue pressed to teeth as she fought retaliation to her daughter’s allegation. She raised her hands to sit on her hips, obviously impatient to eject Mercy from her establishment as soon as she could.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“Don’t worry; I didn’t come to play happy families,” Mercy said.
“Good,” Anna responded coldly.
“I want the Grimoire.”
“The Grimoire is not for anyone to touch; especially you.”
“I’ll just find it myself then,” Mercy said. She spun and headed for the television cabinet, opening the doors and pulling the contents out.
“You’re going to destroy the place for one book?” Anna questioned.
“What do you care?” Mercy retaliated. “None of this is yours. It’s all blood money.”
“It’s mine so long as it’s here,” Anna answered.
“Then where does that leave me?” Mercy questioned.
“Honey, listen to me,” Anna said, taking a more gentle tone as she approached her daughter. “If you take the Grimoire bad things are going to come to you.”
“Don’t,” Mercy said.
“Don’t start acting like my mother. You gave up that right a long time ago.”
Turning, Anna made her way into the kitchen, opening one of the cupboard doors and pulling down an urn-shaped cookie jar. Lifting the lid, she placed her hand inside the void and withdrew a small red shape within her fist. Flicking her hand once, twice, a vast red glow drew a rectangular shape around her palm, becoming solid as the book formed within her hand. Walking back to her daughter she held the book out towards her.
“Here,” she said.
“Thanks,” Mercy replied bitterly, snatching it out of her hand.
“I meant what I said. It’s dangerous. Try not to kill yourself with it,” Anna said. “I’ve put a return spell on it so the moment you use it it’ll come back here.”
“Then expect another visit if once isn’t enough,” Mercy said, her words saturated with sarcasm. “Goodbye, mother.”
Folding her arms, Anna watched her daughter leave with the Grimoire in hand. She passed over to the window, watching and waiting until she saw Mercy exit out onto the street, then headed into the kitchen and picked up the phone. Dialing a number she knew off by heart, she tossed aside her long, dark hair as she raised the receiver to her ear and turned to lean against the bench-top.
“We’ve got a problem. My daughter’s just stolen the Grimoire.”* * *
“So you’re saying that even with black magic he’s untouchable?” Danny said.
“Exactly,” Christian responded.
Sitting backwards on the white chair in his room, his arms folded over the top edge, Danny pondered what the younger man across from him had to say. The door slid open and Mercy entered, red tome in hand.
“Got it,” she said. Glancing towards Christian she looked at him with puzzlement. “How did he get in here?”
“He’s got this fancy light show trick he does where he just appears in the room,” Danny explained. Christian nodded in agreement.
“Handy,” she acknowledged, accepting the reasoning.
“Yeah. Sure beats the having to die to get from point a to point b in a hurry,” Danny said. Mercy smoothed a hand over his hair sympathetically. She handed him the book and he flicked it open, looking at the middle page before closing the tome again.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“My brother can self defence his way out of any magical bind,” Christian said.
“The bastard lives on,” Danny muttered.
“You can’t kill him,” Christian continued. He placed his hand against his chest. “It’ll ruin my family and my life. You’ll be turning the magical world on its head.”
“And we’ll get ourselves killed… again,” Danny added.
“So what do you need the Grimoire for? Eternal pain?” Mercy questioned, indicating towards the book.
“I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend the rest of my life sticking needles into a voodoo doll to nullify him,” Danny said.
“Is there a way to change him or keep him away from things? Like a preventative spell?” Christian suggested.
“Not in this book,” Danny answered. Mercy took it from his hands, seating herself next to Christian on the bed as she flicked through the pages.
“What about a time shift?” Mercy offered. “Was there a certain period in his life which forced him down this path?”
“It’s always been patchy but… maybe when mom died?” Christian replied. “He took that pretty hard. Things just seemed to spiral from there.”
“And if you could do it over, would you stop him?” she asked.
“Then I can send you back.”
The brief flicker of enthusiasm drained from his face as he lowered his head and picked at his nails; fear, doubt and sorrow overtaking his emotions.
“You don’t want to go back?” Mercy asked, noticing his change in body language.
“I do, but I don’t want to leave everyone.”
“You’ll only go back for as long as you need to,” Mercy said.
“That’s not what’s worrying me. I haven’t seen my mother for nine years. I don’t know what I would say to her.”
“You don’t,” Danny intervened. “You keep things as they are unless they need changing. And you pretend you’re not you.” He looked to Mercy. “I’ll go back with him, make sure he doesn’t step on any toadstools.”
Her look of concern and sadness was exchanged with one of his own. They had not been separated for any great length of time before.
“Where do we do this thing?” he prompted.
“The subject’s place of origin,” she answered.
“The attic,” Christian said. “It’s okay, we can go there. He’s not there now.”
“You sure he’s not just playing peek-a-boo?” Danny queried. “Cause I had enough of that game last night.”
“He’s at the club. At least that’s the last thing I heard. I’ve got eyes and ears everywhere,” Christian said. Danny looked at him distrustfully.
“We should go before we lose time,” Mercy said.
“How are we going to get out?” Danny asked Mercy, querying how they would be able to smuggle Christian out without notice.
“Same way I came in,” Christian said. Standing, he held out one hand to each witch. “Shall we?”
Danny took one hand, Mercy the other. A bright light filled the room, stretching across Christian’s body until it encompassed the assassins on either side.
“This isn’t going to hurt, is it?” Danny called seconds before they disappeared.
Reappearing within the attic they found it was just as empty as Christian had promised. Danny scoured every corner just to make certain David was not hiding unseen again. When he was satisfied he returned to the pair.
“I need something to draw with. And five black candles,” Mercy told Christian.
Knowing where most of these objects were kept, Christian moved away to a mid-size solid chest situated upon a cardboard box between two shelving units and opened the lid, withdrawing the candles from inside. Mercy turned towards Danny and took his hands.
“I don’t want you to do this,” she said.
“I can’t just leave the kid on his own.”
“He’s not a kid, Danny.”
“He sure acts like one.”
“That’s not why you’re going, is it? You want to mess up what broke you,” she said. He averted her eyes, giving her all the confirmation she needed. She squeezed his hands understandably. “Let me come with you.”
“No. I don’t want him to hurt you.”
“He’ll just do the same to me here,” she pointed out.
“Not if I fix this.” He lifted her hands to his lips and kissed them. “I need someone to stay here and watch him. If he steps out of line… kill him.”
She nodded, wrestling her hand free from his grasp and pulling the ring from her finger, the one he had given to her when he’d proposed. Curling his fingers around it, she held his hand tight between her own.
“If you need me, for anything at all, send this back. Bury it in my pillow if you have to. I’ll come,” she said.
He held it tight in his fist as she pulled away, taking the chalk from Christian and opening the book up on the floor. She replicated the image from the book, instructing Christian where to place the candles outside of the circle. As the last of them were lit she looked up to the two boys.
“Ready?” she asked.
“Just one more thing,” Christian said, pulling his cell phone from the back of his pocket. With speedy fingers he typed up a text message and sent it off to his best friend. He smiled as he looked back to Mercy. “Needed to say goodbye.”
Danny stepped into the circle first, Christian following him in. As Mercy stood with book in hand, Danny turned and looked longingly back at her. Stepping back out of the circle, he pulled her head back towards him and kissed her passionately one last time, the book flattening against her chest between them.
“Don’t forget I love you,” he said, backing into the circle again.
“I love you too,” she whispered, tears stinging her eyes, her heart missing him already.
She closed her eyes, drawing in a calming breath and focusing her attention on the page before her. As she recited the spell she could first hear the generation of light that sprung up around the boys, the genesis of noise accumulated from the origins of time itself. Their voices were lost in the wash of a thousand scenes layered one over the other, spiriting them back through time. Her hair lifted with the circulation of wind embodied within the circle and the book disengaged from her grasp. At first she thought it had been drawn into the whirlwind, but as it glowed red and disappeared in a flash she remembered her mother had said it would return back to her the moment she used it. And without writing any of the information down, Mercy had now lost all chance she had of going back herself or even bringing Christian and Danny back.