Wednesday, June 24, 2015
"Death Undone" (R) - Chapter Three
The three survivors of the Halliwell manor attack teleported into the foyer of the McNeills' home. Much to Harry's dismay. "Why are we here?" he demanded.
"Sorry," Paige apologized. "It was the first place I could think of. I could take you somewhere else, if you want. Don’t worry. No bodies in here."
Harry took a deep breath. He did not want to be here. He did not want to be reminded that he was the only surviving member of his immediate family. Then an idea came to him and he quickly squelched his grief. "On second thought, not yet. I have something to find."
Cecile spoke up. "How about Victor Bennett? He's still back at your house, Paige. With Artemus."
"Oh God! I forgot." Seconds later, the older Halliwells' father materialized next to the surviving Charmed One. "Victor, are you okay?"
Disbelief and horror mingled on the older man's face. "What the hell happened? What . . . what's going on?"
"Victor, I'm sorry," Paige began. "It's a long story. The demon who had killed Piper and Wyatt . . . he, uh . . . he . . ."
Impatient to search for the very item that could possibly save the rest of them, Harry blurted out, "He killed my family. All of them. He also killed Andre, Cole's mother, Leo and Phoebe."
"What?" Victor cried. "Phoebe? She's . . ."
Harry interrupted him. "Look, I'm sorry you had to hear the news this way, but we don't have time to lose. There's a chance that this Artemus might track us to this house."
While Victor grieved over the death of his remaining daughter, Harry started toward the curved staircase. "Where are you going?" Cecile demanded.
"To find Olivia's spell," Harry replied. "The one she used when she nearly killed Cole. It should be inside her French antique desk that we got from the penthouse after her death."
Cecile shot back, "Don't bother."
"What?" Harry paused on the staircase. He stared at the Vodoun priestess. "Why not? The spell is the only thing that can stop this guy. He has Cole's powers."
Shaking her head, Cecile replied, "I don't think so. In fact, I think this Artemus has Wyatt's powers."
Paige demanded, "What do you mean?"
"When . . . Artemus first appeared here and later at your home," Cecile continued, "he orbed. Like a whitelighter. I think he has Wyatt's abilities."
"Then who has Cole's powers?"
An impatient Victor retorted, "Who cares? I'm with Harry! You need to take this bastard out! And if there's a spell to do it . . ."
Harry added, "Only Olivia's spell can vanquish him."
"Harry, Mr. Bennett . . . stop! Think for a minute." The two men gazed impatiently at Cecile, who continued. "Even if we get our hands on that spell, we need the time to prepare it and set a trap for this Artemus character. We've already spent a good deal of time arguing and this Artemus is not wasting any time in hunting us down. I'm only surprised that he hasn't found us, yet."
A fifth voice added, "Your friend is right." The three magic practitioner and the Charmed Ones' father gasped at the sight of a light-brown skinned man with close-cropped hair and sharp cheekbones, standing next to Harry. "In fact, it won't be long before Artemus finds you."
"Who are you?" Paige demanded. "One of Artemus' lackeys?"
The newcomer merely smiled. "Fortunately for you, I am not. My name is Chasor. I work for what you might call a dominion spirit, whose name happens to be Maseriel. I was supposed to meet the McNeills, the Charmed Ones and two daemons named Nimue and Lohdon . . . here at this house. Apparently, I arrived too late."
"You certainly did," Cecile snapped back. "Where were you?"
Chasor shrugged his shoulders. "My apologies. I was detained. But you three are still alive and you need to deal with Artemus."
"I plan to deal with him all right," Harry retorted. "By vanquishing his ass. I can use the spell that Olivia had created for . . ."
The upper-level daemon dismissed Harry's words with a wave of his hand. "Killing Artemus will not solve the problem. If he survives, you'll be dead. If you kill him, the supernatural world will become even more chaotic. And you will never be able to retrieve the Staff of Aingeal. Lady Belthazor's killer had taken the staff into another dimension. And with Andre Morell dead, Mrs. Morell," he nodded at Cecile, "will not be able to stop the Anasi Order from becoming too powerful. You need to do something else."
"Like what?" Mr. Bennett demanded.
Before Chasor could answer, Cecile spoke up. "Go back in time." Everyone stared at her. "We need to go back in time and prevent Olivia and Cole's deaths. It's the best way."
Time travel? Harry contemplated Cecile's idea. He realized that it could be done. After all, this Artemus character would not have moved against Piper and Wyatt, if Cole had been alive. "That's not a bad idea," he finally said.
"I agree," Chasor declared. He paused, before cocking his head upward. "I have to go. I believe that my Lord Maseriel has summoned me. Uh, Mr. Bennett . . . I suggest you come with me. I’ll deliver you to a safe place. Like your family home in San Jose." He held out a hand to Mr. Bennett. The latter hesitated. "Don’t worry. You’ll be safe with me. They need to do this alone. "
Mr. Bennett sighed. "Fine. I’ll go. " He placed one hand on Chasor’s should and turned to Harry and the two women. "Good luck you three. I hope to God you can clean up this mess." He and Chasor teleported out of the room in a flash of light.
Paige cried out, "Wait a minute!"
"What's wrong?" Harry demanded.
"Get Chasor . . . or whatever his name, back here! Summon him. We need him to send us back to the past."
Cecile rolled her eyes. "Don't worry. I have a way sending us back through time."
"What we need is the Power of Three!" Paige insisted. The other two stared at her. "Hel-lo? We're talking about time travel. We don't have enough power between the three of us for a spell."
Cecile shook her head, as she retorted, "You and your sisters had some curious notions about magic. It's not always about sheer power, Paige. You also have to consider other matters – the right words, the right objects, source . . ." She paused and cocked her head.
"What is it?" Harry asked. Then he heard voices in his head. One of the voices belonged to Artemus. "Jesus! He's here! Aretemus. And a few friends."
"They must be in the drawing room," Cecile added. "Quick! Upstairs!" The two witches and the Vodou priestess rushed upstairs to the second floor. Cecile led the younger pair to her bedroom. "Before Piper and Wyatt's deaths, I had considered the possibility of going back in time to prevent Cole and Olivia's deaths. Harry, draw a circle. Use anything you can find."
Harry glanced around the room and found a yellow highlighter on the night stand on the left side of the bed. He could imagine his mother or Davies' reactions to a yellow mark on the sandalwood floor. Then he threw back the rug in front of the bed and used the highlighter to draw a circle. "Now what?"
"Here." Cecile handed over a crystallite rock to Harry. She gave a second one to Paige. "Everyone, stand inside the circle. We're each going to place one rock at the points that'll form a triangle inside." The voice grew nearer. Harry heard footsteps on the staircase. "At the count of three. One . . ."
Paige protested, "Wait! This is your spell for . . .?"
"Not now, Paige! Okay. Trust me." Cecile took a deep breath. "Take us back to March 3, 2004."
Harry and the two women each placed their rocks at their designated points on the circle. Bright lights formed a circle around the trio. At that moment, Harry saw the doorknob move. Before the door could swing open, the lights blinded Harry; as he, Paige and Cecile disappeared into time.
His name was Isen. And he was a daemon – a spirit guide assigned to determine the fates of Olivia, Cole, Piper and Wyatt's spirits. He led the three adults and the toddler across the park's wide lawn. They came upon what looked like a large chestnut tree. "Have a seat," he politely suggested. "The grass is clean."
The newcomers glanced at each other briefly. Then they slowly sank to the ground. Olivia and Cole sat closely next to each other. Piper, who still held Wyatt in her arms, sat opposite the couple. "So, why are we here?" the Charmed One demanded.
"We are here to determine the next destinations of your souls. Your spirits," Isen declared cheerfully. "Think of this place like a supernatural or spiritual way-station for the souls of the dead. Once you are through with me, your souls will move on to a higher existence, remain in limbo for a while or be reborn into another sentient being."
A long pause surround the group, as the two witches and the half-daemon exchanged more looks. "Why is Cole here?" Piper asked, taking Olivia by surprise. The half-daemon stared at the Charmed One. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to come off as hostile or anything like that. It's just . . . I thought all demons go to the Wasteland after they're, uh . . ."
"Killed?" Olivia finished.
Piper's face turned pink. "Well . . . uh, yeah."
Isen calmly explained, "Not all daemons end up in the Wasteland, Miss Halliwell. Belthazor had ended up there due to the fact that the Source's essence was inside his body when you and your sisters . . ."
"Okay. Yeah. I get it." Piper's face turned a deeper shade of pink. She murmured to Cole, "Sorry." The half-daemon merely responded with a brief smile. Then Piper continued, "But why . . . I mean, Mom, Grams and Prue all ended up in the Whitelighter Realm. Why didn't Wyatt and me?"
The daemon gave the Charmed One a puzzled frown. "Why would you want to end up there?" He turned to Olivia. "Did you expected to end up with the Whitelighters, Lady Belthazor?"
Lady Belthazor? Olivia shook her head and replied, "I never really thought about where I would end up. And if I have to be frank, the Whitelighters Realm is one place I do not want to be."
"You have nothing to fear, Lady Belthazor," Isen said with a twinkle in his dark eyes. "And by the way, none of Miss Halliwell's family ever became whitelighters, either. Her mother and grandmother merely became stuck in limbo in the Whitelighters Realm. As for her sister . . ."
Confusion whirled in Piper's eyes. "Wait a minute! What do you mean . . . stuck in limbo? The Whitelighter Realm is limbo?"
"For your mother and grandmother, yes. After all, they are not whitelighters. Nor have they moved on to a higher plane . . . or been reborn into new bodies." Piper opened her mouth to speak, but Isen continued, "I suppose you believe that the Whitelighter Realm is the highest plane of existence, Miss Halliwell. But from my point of view, it is relatively minor. After all, many whitelighters have failed to rise above their previous emotional state. The magic of witches, wizards and others can affect them. However, your magic would have no effect upon me, if I were to visit your former world. Not even Belthazor's powers could affect me.
Olivia spoke up. "You said that Piper's mother and grandmother were stuck in limbo. What happened to Prue?"
Isen explained that Prue's essence had been reborn into a new body. "Mind you, she had failed to achieve self-realization. But at least she learned to put her old life behind her."
The daemon's words seemed to have angered Piper. "Meaning what? Are you saying that Prue had decided to forget us? Forget Phoebe and me?"
"Once she had realized that the Power of Three would continue with your half-sister, she finally let go," Isen coolly explained.
Piper retorted, "Well, the Power of Three no longer exists without me. I'm not ready to . . . move on. I would rather be sent back."
Olivia met Cole's gaze. The half-daemon rolled his eyes. Both knew that Piper had just made a futile request. Isen verified their assumption when he asked, "Are you saying, Miss Halliwell, that you would like to be reborn into another body?"
"I want to return as Piper Halliwell," the Charmed One demanded in a clipped tone. "With me dead, there is no more Power of Three. And I doubt that I have another half-sister in existence."
Isen regarded Piper with hard eyes. Eyes that Olivia found slightly intimidating. "The Power of Three no longer exists, Miss Halliwell. Did you honestly believe that it would last forever?"
Again, the Charmed One became speechless. A slight smile curled Isen's mouth. "Of course you did. Like many sentient beings, you have great difficulty in letting go. In your case, you seemed to have raised this trait into a fine art." The daemon took Piper's silence as an opportunity to turn his attention to Cole. "And what about you, Belthazor? Do you want to return, as well? You have already done it once. And you ended up losing Miss Halliwell's sister."
Cole merely heaved a sigh and said pointedly, "I'm fine. Trust me."
"Hmmm. You have no regrets, whatsoever?"
"Of course I have some regrets," Cole retorted. Another sigh escaped from his mouth. "Sorry. I didn't mean to sound hostile. I just . . . well, I obviously made some bad choices in my life. Working for the Source . . . and other things." His face assumed a mask.
A long, silent pause followed. Then Isen added, "What about your mother? Nimue? Do you have any regrets about her?"
A sheen of frost covered Cole's blue eyes. "What about her?"
"Have you ever wondered why she had killed your father?"
Another long, silent pause followed. Unable to keep her mouth shut, Olivia said, "I've always wondered." Cole glared at her. "What? Well I have. It never made sense to me that she had waited so long to kill him. You were two months shy of your fourth birthday, when she killed your dad. I mean . . . why did she wait so long?"
"I don't . . . I don't know why!" Cole said through clenched teeth.
Isen coolly asked, "When did you plan on asking her? Or did you ever plan to?"
"I . . ." Cole paused, as he took a deep breath. "I don't know. I guess a part of me was afraid to learn the truth. My Uncle Marbus always believed that Mother had loved my father."
Nodding, Isen added, "She did."
"Then why did she kill him?"
The daemon's eyes grew opaque. "What makes you think she had any choice?"
Confusion whirled in Cole's eyes. "What are you saying? That my mother had no choice but to kill Father?" He scoffed loudly. "I find that hard to believe."
"Why? Because you would rather believe the worst about her?" Isen demanded. "Is it still much easier to believe Raynor's lies about your parents' relationship, rather than face the possibility that you had been wrong . . . for so many years?"
A speechless Cole stared in shock at the other daemon. Before he could speak, Isen directed his eyes at Olivia. Much to her discomfort. "I supposed you're going to ask me some life-altering question," she said.
"I do have one question, Lady Belthazor," Isen commented. "Why were you so reluctant to participate in the Staff of Aingeal ceremony?"
Olivia blinked. "Huh?"
"The ceremony for the selection of the new bearer of the Aingeal Staff. Why were you so reluctant to participate in it? Belthazor literally had to needle you into participating in the ceremony. Why?"
The redhead merely stared at the daemon for several moments. Then she felt a sensation . . . a feeling that someone had joined them. She glanced to her left and spotted another being standing to her left. This being happened to be in the guise of a human female with bronze skin and long black hair. She wore a pale cream kaftan. "I'm sorry to interrupt, Isen. We need to talk. Now."
A slight frown appeared on Isen's face. He rose to his feet and drew his colleague aside from the others. The two indulged in an animated conversation that attracted Olivia's attention. She caught certain words like "mistake" and "sent back", but failed to hear anything else.
"I wonder what they're talking about," Piper commented.
With a shake of her head, Olivia replied that she could only hear a few words. "I heard the words 'sent back'. They could be talking about us."
"They are," Cole added. "There's a chance that we might be sent back."
"But why?" Piper's question drew stares from Olivia and Cole. "What?"
Olivia replied, "A few minutes ago, we got the impression that you wanted to go back."
"I do," Piper insisted. "But I'm just . . . you know, curious."
Cole sighed. "All I know is that someone has gone back in time to prevent our deaths. Something bad must have happened."
Piper muttered, "And you don't think us getting killed wasn't bad?"
Rolling his eyes, Cole added, "Something probably a lot worse."
Isen broke away from the other daemon and returned to the group. "I have . . . an emergency. Which means I will have to postpone our little session."
A part of Olivia felt slightly relieved. But she demanded, "For how long? Several decades from now?" Isen gave her a questioning look. "Cole told us that someone has traveled back in time to prevent our deaths."
"Belthazor has excellent hearing," the daemon murmured with a sigh. "Did he overhear anything else?"
Cole stood to his feet. So did Olivia and Piper. "No, I didn't. What's going on?"
Isen quickly answered, "Someone has returned to the past to prevent your deaths. Now, I suggest that the three of you and the little one . . ."
"What else is going on?" Cole continued. "What happened after our deaths?"
A long pause followed before Isen said, "I'm sorry, Belthazor. But that is not your concern at the moment. Now . . . if you would just follow that path to your right, it will lead you to a lovely community filled with museums, restaurants and clubs. No costs at all. Or you can hang around the park a little longer and enjoy some of our nature paths."
"What if we decide not to leave you, until you tell us what's going on?" Piper said in adamant voice.
Both Olivia and Cole stared at Piper. Then they shifted their gazes toward Isen, who merely stared at the Charmed One with an enigmatic smile. The strained silence ended when the daemon waved one hand. A second later, Olivia found herself standing in the middle of what looked like a pleasant and colorful suburban business district . . . along with Cole, Piper and Wyatt. Olivia turned to the Charmed One and remarked, "Well Piper . . . I guess he answered your question."
Piper's mouth formed a moue.
END OF CHAPTER THREE