At promptly nine twenty-five in the evening, Mira entered the half-empty Eaton Suppliers warehouse in South San Francisco, accompanied by three men. The young wizard had hired three warlocks to serve as bodyguards, in case her client decides to spring a trap. One of them held Mira's laptop. The other two disappeared behind some crates immediately upon arrival.
"No one's here," the remaining warlock commented. He was tall and blond, and he also held Mira's computer. "Are you sure that this is the place?"
One of the crates inside the warehouse read EATON SUPPLIERS, INCORPORATED. Mira nodded. "Yeah, I'm sure. Perhaps she's just . . ."
At that moment, the client in question and four other companions entered the warehouse. "Mira, darling! You've made it!"
The younger wizard recognized the vibrant voice. With a tentative smile on her lips, Mira turned to face the tall, female wizard. With long, auburn curls, sharp cheekbones, pale skin and flashing turquoise eyes, Oria Mundi struck quite a figure. Although Oria looked like a woman in her early thirties, Mira knew for a fact that the former had been born long before the early 1970s. A tentative smile tugged at Mira's lips. "Oria. Ready for business?" She eyed the other woman's four assistants. One carried a metal briefcase, while two others began setting up a folding table and two chairs.
"Of course I am." Oria's gaze swept over the younger woman. Unease crept into her turquoise eyes. "Darling, where's the sword?"
Sweetly, Mira replied, "Don't worry. I'll hand it over as soon as I'm paid."
"Oh dear. You don't trust me?"
Mira's smile widened. "Of course I do," she gently admonished. "I'm just being careful." She indicated the table and two chairs. "Why don't we begin?"
The two women sat down, facing each other. Mira's blond companion placed her computer laptop on the table in front of her. Oria's thug removed a laptop from his briefcase and set it up for the auburn-haired wizard. Mira accessed her bank account on the computer, while Oria did the same.
"Let's see," Oria began. "The deal called for ten million dollars . . ."
Mira interrupted. "I'm sorry. I'm just . . . well, I'm still surprised that you're able to pay such a sum for the sword. How did you managed to become so wealthy since your escape from the Barakus Wasteland? It hasn't been that long."
Oria's mouth formed a cruel smile. "Apparently, an old and lonely . . . friend of my late uncle . . . had recently passed away." She paused dramatically. "And he was kind enough to leave me his money. It turns out that he was a multi-billionaire."
"You must have seen to his every need," Mira responded.
The older wizard's smile widened in a suggestive manner. "Right to the end. Now, let's see about this transaction." Oria typed an entry into her computer laptop. "The money should start transferring into your account . . . right about now."
Seconds passed before Mira glanced at the laptop's screen. Her Cayman Islands bank account now read $10.8 million dollars. Triumph fluttered within the young wizard's breast. She smiled at her benefactor. "Everything's there." Then she turned to the blond warlock and snapped her fingers. He summoned another warlock, whose name happened to be Rolf. The second warlock - a thin, chestnut-haired man with dark brown eyes - appeared from behind a stack of crates, holding the sheathed sword. Rolf handed the sword over to Mira. She removed the purple velvet sheath from the merchandise. "Here we are. Haldane's Sword."
Oria's eyes glittered with desire. "At last! I never thought . . ." She paused as a heavy breeze filled the warehouse. Frowning, she asked, "Was there a storm forecasted for tonight?"
"What?" Oria asked. She had also noticed the strong breeze that whipped her long hair into the air.
The older wizard became grim. "Something's not right. This wind . . . it's unatur . . ."
What began as a heavy breeze became something stronger. Soon, a strong whirlwind filled the warehouse, knocking a few stacked crates on the floor. Mira found herself being lifted off her feet, before the wind hurled her body across the floor. A cry escaped from her mouth, as her body slammed into a large crate. And everything went black.
Bruce, along with Scott, Cirhan and the two older Halliwells emerged from their hiding places behind the crates. "Wow! That's some power you have!" Piper declared to Bruce, looking very impressed.
"Thanks," Bruce replied. "You wouldn't believe how much trouble it first . . ."
A blond-haired minion rose to his feet and murmured a chant before hurling an energy ball at Phoebe. Piper destroyed said ball with her molecular combustion power. Before the minion could attack again, Phoebe knocked him out cold with a roundhouse kick. Piper turned to Bruce. "What were you about to say?"
"Never mind," the oldest McNeill sibling said.
Looking anxious, Cirhan ordered, "Find the sword!
The others - Bruce included - set out to do as Cirhan had ordered. As the search for the sword and Mira Novak commenced, Oria Mundi's henchmen finally recovered from Bruce's aerokinetic attack and faced off the three men and two sisters.
Bruce had no problem using his aerokinesis to send a man and a woman hurling against a wall. But one particular minion with an electrokinetic ability managed to stun Bruce with an energy ball. The minion then formed another ball above his open palm and hurled it at the witch. Fortunately, Scott deflected the attack using telekinesis and the minion disintegrated into a pile of ash. "Need help?" The police officer/sorcerer offered Bruce a hand.
The witch gratefully took hold of Scott's hand and rose to his feet. The pair heard an explosion nearby and turned around in time to see Piper lower her hands. They also saw Cirhan break another minion's neck. Then Phoebe cried out, "I found her! And the sword!" The others rushed toward the Charmed One's side. Sure enough, a dark-haired young woman lay sprawled on the floor, nestled between two stacks of crates . . . and barely on top of the object in question.
Cirhan bent down and rolled the woman on her back. He then retried the object and held it up for the others to see. "The Sword of Haldane." Bruce nearly gasped aloud at the sight of the ornate sword. Blood red rubies crusted the sword's hilt, which supported a silver, double-edge blade with strange markings carved on both sides of the blade's fuller. The daemon announced triumphantly, "Ulmund will be . . ."
". . . very disappointed by your failure to recover the sword for him!" A beautiful and voluptuous auburn-haired woman strode forward. With a sweep of her arms, she knocked the crates aside, exposing the entire party. Then she stretched out one hand and the sword zipped out of Cirhan's grip and into hers. With a smirk stamped on her face, she added, "Thank you."
"Oria Mundi!" Cirhan's eyes reflected shock and distaste at the sight of the female wizard. Bruce regarded her with interest. Superficially, Oria Mundi reminded him of his younger sister. Unlike Olivia, who possessed flaming red tresses, Ms. Mundi's curls seemed more reddish-brown and she wore them long. Ms. Mundi's features seemed fuller and less delicate than Olivia's.
The wizard's smirk became more pronounced. "Cirhan. I see that the Gimle Order has sent their very own official boy scout. How charming." She spoke with a faint English accent. "Now, if you will excuse me, I have a few worlds to conquer."
"I don't think so." Piper stepped forward. She flung out her hands - whether to freeze or blow up the wizard - Bruce did not know. But nothing happened. "I . . ." Confusion filled Piper's eyes.
Ms. Mundi regarded the eldest Halliwell with contempt. "So, you're supposed to be one of the much celebrated Charmed Ones?" She snorted with derision. "So much for your reputation." A Latin chant escaped from her mouth before shooting a ball of energy at Piper.
Before Bruce could intercede, Scott stepped in front of the Charmed One and whipped out a dark-blue fan with white characters. The energy ball bounced off the opened fan and zoomed back toward the wizard. Unfortunately, Ms. Mundi used the sword to swat aside the energy ball before it could harm her.
Then Oria pointed the sword toward the others and began to chant:
"Creatures of good thou art,
Creature of flesh and blood you be.
I name you all as my enemies . . ."
Anxiety and fear illuminated Cirhan's face. "She's using the sword against us! Everyone, link hands and repeat after me!" The two Charmed Ones, Scott, Bruce and Cirhan all linked hands, while the latter chanted:
"Evil send must come to rest Reflect it back to who knows best Energy spent for evil and bane . . ."
"No more shall you do me harm.
No more shall you repeat harmful tales.
No more shall you interfere in my life.
By the power of Haldane and by my will, So mote it be!"
Once the wizard finally completed her chant, the sword's tip began to glow red. She aimed the blade at the quintet and a wide, red beam shot from the tip.
At the same time, Bruce and the others finished Cirhan's chant:
"Go back now from whence you came Far away we send you this hour May the sword's attempts to harm turn sour!"
A magical shield materialized in front of the quintet. The red beam bounced off the shield and split into several directions, disintegrating Oria Mundi's minions. One beam also struck the female wizard. She shrieked out loud before disappearing completely. Once the red beam cleared, the sword clattered to the floor.
Bruce exhaled loudly. "Well, that was close!" He stared at Cirhan. "How did you know what spell to use to counter the sword's power?"
"Ulmund," Cirhan replied. "He gave me the counter spell. Just in case it was used against me." He heaved a heartfelt sigh. "I better get the sword."
A moan came from the fallen figure behind Piper. She declared, "Looks like your Miss Novak is still alive." Bruce glanced over his shoulder at the inert figure sprawled behind the Charmed One. Piper continued, "What's going to hap . . .?"
Before Piper could finish, Bruce felt his body rise from the floor and slam against a bare wall. Even worse, he found himself stuck to the wall . . . unable to move. A quick glance to his sides revealed that his companions seem to be in a similar situation. He muttered an oath and prayed that his wife and brother, along with Paige, would come to their rescue.
Several minutes earlier, Barbara heaved an exasperated sigh and grumbled, "I swear I'm going to kill Bruce for dragging us into this mess. And in the middle of the night."
"Then why did you come?" Harry demanded.
Barbara snapped back, "To make sure that your idiotic brother doesn't get himself hurt!"
Paige, who sat in the back of Bruce's dark-blue Jaguar, quietly remarked, "Bruce only wanted to help."
Another sigh left Barbara's mouth. "I know. I just didn't think I'd end up spending most of this evening sitting on my ass, while my husband rushes into the . . ." A bright, red light emitted from the warehouse's windows. "What the hell?"
A gasp left Paige's mouth. "You don't think something's happened to the others, do you?"
"I don't know," Barbara answered. "But I'm not going to hang around here and wonder." She climbed out of the car. Harry and Paige followed. The trio made their way toward the warehouse entrance. "I don't want to go rushing inside like some idiot. Both of you keep a sharp eye out for trouble."
Once inside the warehouse, the trio surreptiously weaved their way through stacks of crates. Before they could reach the center, they overheard voices that belonged to no one they knew. "What do we do with the witches and Cirhan, Lemsa?" a male's high-pitched voice asked.
Lemsa? Barbara exchanged frowns with Harry and Paige. She could have sworn that Mira Novak had planned to do business with Olivia's old nemesis, Oria Mundi.
A woman's voice coolly replied, "Why do you bother to ask? Kill them, of course. Kill them all." A pause followed before she added, "And Hador, hand me the Haldane Sword."
Barbara pulled out her wand from her inner jacket pocket. "Paige," she whispered to the Charmed One, "get the sword."
Then the trio rushed out from behind the crate. Barbara nearly hesitated at the sight of her husband, the older Halliwells, Scott and Cirhan pressed against the wall . . . and nine feet off the ground. Fortunately, she recovered in time to zap a nearby daemon with her wand. He ended up on the floor, unconscious.
Paige orbed the sword out of the hands of an astonished demoness. The latter, whose name happened to be Lemsa, glared at the newcomers. "Oh great!" she growled. "Will someone please kill at least one lousy witch? If possible!"
One daemon sent a spray of ice at Harry. Who immediately cried, "Gwyro!" The ice stream bounced back and struck the daemon, turning him into an ice statue. Another tried to stab the red-haired witch with a hunting knife. Harry blocked the attack with a few Wing Chun moves before grabbing the daemon's wrist and forcing the knife's blade into the latter's heart.
A cry rose from Paige's lips. Barbara saw her body being flung against a crate with a solid thud. A female daemon then flung an energy ball at the youngest Charmed One. Fortunately, Paige orbed the energy ball from the daemon and flung it back, instantly killing the latter.
"Enough of this!" Lemsa cried. Her eyes began to glow dangerously red.
Barbara decided that she also had enough of this fight. Raising her wand outward, she chanted:
"Beings of evil, Unfriendly beings Unwanted guests, Be gone!
Leave us leave this place, leave this Plane,
that the Goddess and the God may enter.
By the power of the Mother and the Horned One I vanquish you! I vanquish you! I vanquish you!"
A stream of energy poured out of the wand and enveloped Lemsa and her minions. Shrieks and cries of pain and panic filled the warehouse until the daemons disintegrated into balls of light and fire. The five people against the wall fell to the floor with heavy thumps. "Sorry," Barbara apologized.
Paige exclaimed, "Wow! That's some wand!" Harry helped her to her feet. She picked up the sword.
"Yes, it is." Piper stood up. She asked Barbara, "Where did you get it?"
Barbara replied, "Dad had bought it for me in the Anduin Marketplace. For my 18th birthday. Practically had it custom made." She turned to her husband. "I don't mean to be a spoil sport, but can we please get out of here?"
A loud gasp left Paige's mouth, as the Haldane Sword zipped out of her hands. It landed into the grasp of a very conscious Mira Novak. "Thanks for the sword, everyone. And thanks for taking care of that bitch, Lemsa." She threw out her hands and Barbara - along with the others - found themselves being flung against the bare wall. "Good night."
"Piper, freeze her!" Phoebe cried.
The oldest Charmed One, who stood near the young wizard, raised her hands in the air. For six seconds, Mira Novak froze. Paige took the opportunity to retrieve the sword, using her teleportation ability. But it did not take long for Piper's freezing power to wear off. Once it did, Ms. Novak knocked the Charmed One with a quick punch to the jaw. Then she swiftly knelt beside the fallen Piper and placed a hand on the latter's shoulder. "Hand over the sword right now or I'll kill her," the wizard growled.
"What are you going to do?" Paige retorted. "Cuddle her to death?"
At that moment, electricity surged from Ms. Novak's hand and jolted Piper's body. The oldest Charmed One cried out in pain. "That is what I'll continue to do, if you don't hand me that sword," the wizard threatened. "And I'll keep doing it until she dies. So, give me the sword. Now! Or I'll . . ." Again, she electrocuted Piper. The latter attempted to rise from the floor. Ms. Novak shoved her back down. "Give it to me!" Then she electrocuted Piper for the third time.
Within a blink of an eye, Barbara saw an energy ball form above Cirhan's open palm. So did Phoebe. The latter cried out, "No! We're going to . . ." But the middle Halliwell's cries went unheeded. Cirhan flung the energy ball at the young wizard, instantly decapitating her head. Ms. Novak's body weaved for a few seconds before it fell back on the floor.
Scott rushed forward and helped a stunned Piper to her feet. Barbara picked up the sword and handed it over to Cirhan. "I believe that this belongs to you. And by the way . . . great aim."
A grim smile touched the Gimle daemon's lips. "Thanks. I think."
"You could have killed Piper!" Phoebe angrily accused the daemon.
Cirhan shot back, "Which is why I had aimed at Mira's head!" He slipped the sword into the discarded velvet sheath. Barbara noticed that Phoebe had remained silent.
END OF PART FIVE