Toil & Trouble (pt 2)
Less than an hour later, Darien and Alana arrived back at the house with the makings for his favorite meal, and her favorite dessert.
It was a productive trip, they had stopped at various places, and Alana seemed to accomplish everything on her short list. Darien wasn't sure what all she bought, or why she needed some of the things she bought, but she seemed confident in her purchases, so he didn't ask questions.
"Please, just set those bags there. I need to speak to my sister for a second, and want to change my clothes before I get started."
"Now that, is a task I will gladly volunteer helping you with. You know, I am at your service, temptress!"
She rolled her eyes in an exaggerated rebuttal to his offer. "Perhaps later. If I am too exhausted to do it myself, I will enlist your assistance," she quipped.
"Rain check? I can dig it. I won't forget though." His smile made her pause and almost reconsider his offer for now, but she had far too much work to accomplish.
A gentle knock at the door late in the evening alerted the trio, that someone else was interested in their tiny gathering.
Alana shuffled to the door with Selena close behind on her heels, as they peered through the curtain. Alana’s sudden intake of breath was closely followed by the door flying open with a crash. Kade stumbled in, and immediately went face-first onto the kitchen floor, crushing Alana under his weight.
"Oh my God, what happened, Kade? Are you okay, Alana? What's going on? Are you hurt?" Darien dropped to the floor, flipped Kade over off of Alana, and pulled him slightly up onto his lap. Selena quickly dropped down to help. Darien's frantic look was mixed with care for Alana, and fear for his cousin. Kade's face appeared sunken, darker in places, and with a deathly pallor in others. He was gasping for breath, and writhing in pain, though no wounds were visible to the naked eye.
His hollow eyes searched for Alana's face, "He's coming, protect yourselves." Kade's body went completely limp, and Darien's eyes snapped up to Alana.
"Who is coming? What's going on here?"
He felt his cousin's wrist for a pulse as Selene slowly stood.
She took in a slow, steady breath. "He is alive, but barely. Alana, it's time. Let's move Kade closer to the fire. Darien, get some blankets and a pillow from the living room. It's best that Kade stays warm and you stay here to protect him," Selene stated, taking charge of the situation.
"What's happened to him? What the hell is going on here?" Darien demanded.
Alana walked closer to the hearth and stirred the large pot she had going over the fire, "It's nearly ready. I’ll give him some of it soon and we’ll see if it helps. Please Darien, do as Selene asks. I will answer all of your questions soon, but right now we have to prepare."
Darien, looking defeated, gathered his cousin's limp body and placed him by the hearth as directed. Then quickly went into the next room to gather the blankets and pillows. When he returned, Alana was kneeling over Kade with a tin cup in her hand, pouring some of her herbal liquid into his mouth.
"What is that?" he asked with a little more force than he had intended originally.
"It is a life-elixir. He's been poisoned," Selene answered coming into the room carrying two small pewter bottles. "Al, I can't find the third bottle. I need that one, to complete the spell."
"Wait. Everyone stop! Someone please explain to me what the hell is going on here! What is a life-elixir and how do you know how he is without even touching him, Selene? What’s in that cup you’re giving him? What can I do to help?" Darien demanded.
"All three were on my desk, right? Darien, you have to try to stay calm. We have this under control, you need to just relax. Please? Trust me," Alana's eye pleaded with him as she stood and took a step toward him. "It's so very complicated, and I need you to give me a few minutes to explain. But right now I have to focus, so I can save his life and ours, okay? Can you do that for me?"
"Okay, but I feel really lost and totally useless right now, and I just want to help. If you need me, you’ll let me know, right?" Darien's eyes pleaded back with Alana, then suddenly widened. "Wait, spell?"
Alana chuckled, "Yes, dear. Selene and I are witches, just as our mother was, and her mother before her. It’s our family tradition, and one that we are just too stubborn to not uphold. I don't usually tell people that, but you’re about to see something we don't usually show people outside of our family, so at least you have a bit of a warning."
It was Selene's turn to pipe in. With a chuckle, she added, "Yeah, your warning to watch my sister rip someone's flesh off of their bones without touching them. Ah-may-zing! Front row seat, too. You’re one lucky duck!"
Darien's wide-eyed look softened a bit when his cousin managed to speak, well more like a mutter, a few words, "Dude, let her work. She has a gift and I’m sure she won't let us down. That's why he attacked me. I know she’s strong, but she is also nice and cares for you. I'm the only thing he could use to get to you. I'm so sorry."
"You have nothing to be sorry for, Kade. I knew when I saw you this afternoon that you’re his puppet. I knew I would need to fix you, and I had started earlier today to create an elixir of my own, to combat the stuff that he's been poisoning you with. It will take a while, but I will heal you. You will no longer be a slave to him and the plague that has been following you will be lifted. I vow it to you," Alana finished with a slight nod. "Now, you need to save your energy. No more talking."
"What the…?" Darien's voice trailed off thinking over what Kade had said. "Okay, cuz. I can do that. Temptress, we have a lot to talk about later. Thank you for helping my family like this. You're amazing."
"As you wish, dear. But please don't think of me as amazing yet, the battle hasn't even begun," she answered, and kissed him on the cheek. "Selene, I'm going to check my room. Earlier I knocked something off of my desk, I bet that's the one. Which one are you missing?"
"Wish," Selene answered as Alana sprinted from the kitchen.
Alana's room, just a few hours prior, had been her love-nest and sanctuary. Tonight it was a giant maze of books, treasures, runes, and excesses of everything. She headed straight for her desk and immediately dropped to her knees to retrieve the fallen item from earlier in the day. Silently, she berated herself for allowing Darien to steal her thoughts before, making her forget what she was doing. She smiled remembering that she was happy at the time and should be happy now. Distraction or not, tonight was the night she had been training for since she was five years old, and she was not going to fail.
Reaching by her trash basket, around her chair, and under her desk, finally her fingers brushed up against the cool side of the missing pewter bottle. Raising her hand in slight victory, she stood and then quickly froze in place. Something had changed, the peaceful breeze of her room was now more like something dark, tainted, and nauseating.
Without turning, she spat, "Drake, why are you in my home and how did you pass my protection?"
"That silly spell was so juvenile, witchy one. Why don't you just put a ring of salt around your house and expect evil spirits to stay away? Surely that works for all forms of evil, no?" he jested. "There is nothing you can do to stop my taking the life-debt that is owed to me, so I can get my own life back. Your mother fucked me over and I have suffered for far too long. One of you little witch-bitches will have to die to restore me, it might as well be you, though I suspect your sister is the stronger of the two. She is the feisty, dangerous one. Perhaps I should go find her, and make you watch? I still get the win one way or the other, that way," Drake's voice was soothing and menacing at the same time.
"My mother made a mistake! It's not as if she changed you on purpose," Alana pressed.
"Ah yes, your mother. She was ever the queen of wreaking havoc on the lives of people who cared for her. That was the only thing she was ever good at."
"I can formulate a potion that will change your darkness into light. I’ve been working on it for quite some time now, and I’m sure it would help you. Let's try that before we go all slice-and-dice on me, ok?"
"My goodness. Have we already reached the climax of our evening? You've started to beg for your life already? It took your mother days to get to that part! Yes, please continue. I do so enjoy this part." His sneer made her anger flare.
"I am offering you life. It's a good bargain, you should reconsider before I change my mind." The confidence in her voice should have warned him.
"It is a good offer, but I think I will be taking your life and keeping my own. And yes, that is my final answer."
"I had so hoped you would say that," she smiled as she slipped the Wish bottle into her pocket. She then open her hands and began chanting words he had never heard before. He tried to step toward her to silence her, but was frozen in place. His vile expression turned to confusion as she muttered a handful of final words and then he fell to the floor in agony. Unable to stand or fight back, his face flashed with rage.
"You bitch! What have you done?" His screams of terror and pain filled the room as she stood calmly and observed him.
Moments later, there was banging on the door as Selene and Darien had arrived to aid Alana. "Are you okay, Alana? What's happening? Open the damned door!!" They were beating and kicking the door trying to enter, but to no avail.
Alana glanced over her shoulder, whispered a few words toward the door, and silence fell. She slowly looked back over at Drake as he began panicking, and attempted to claw his way through the window, floor, or anything else to get out of her bedroom; his torture chamber.
Calmly, Alana began explaining things to Drake. "You see, Drake, I know all about my mother's mistakes. You were one of the many. She felt remorse for the mistakes she made and entrusted me with them in her journals, and she spent years preparing me, so that I could right her wrongs and keep evil at bay. You, sir, are pure evil. While she was trying to help you, something happened with the spell you asked her to perform because your soul was tainted. That was not her fault though, it was your fault, for having evil thoughts. Your anger toward the world is what continues your deterioration."
"Stop making excuses for your sad sack of a mother and release me at once!" The pain etched across his face gave her pause; her peaceful, loving nature threatening to cause her to change her current course of action.
The chuckle that escaped her sounded deep and menacing. "You are under my command, at my every whim even, at this moment. I would not advise speaking ill of my mother right now if I were you. You've been warned."
"She was useless, and so are her daughters. I wouldn't have even gone to her if she weren't traipsing around town begging for scraps, and trying to trade her skills and her very self, for money to feed you ungrateful whelps." Immediately he contorted and collapsed completely onto the floor. "What have you done to me?"
"Oh, this?" she asked flicking her wrist out as if it were nothing special. "Oh, that faulty witchcraft you think I have, it was set up that way to trap you, sir. My home is fully protected from all evil, including you. My room, however, is where my most powerful magic comes from, because it is full of every magical thing I own. And, look up," she said with a teasing smirk.
He looked to her ceiling to see a hexagram painted there. His own prison was just above him, holding him in place. He had been so eager to get his revenge, he hadn't thought about why it was so easy to sneak into a practicing witch's home.
"My silly spells, as you so fondly refer to them, were placed to protect everything but this one room in my house, where I knew you could not resist. I might be a White Witch, but I have been studying your practices for quite some time. Know thy enemy and all that. My sister was even able to make an exchange for your Grimoire, from a local thief recently. What a find that was! Very helpful to know just what I was working against. Also, during her travels in Europe over the last few years, she met some very interesting people who have been very interested in our current problem with you."
"It was you who stole my book? I assumed one of my servants was using it for something. What have you done? Who would have interest in me?" The new fear that crossed his face gave her another charge of happiness.
Again she chuckled. "I used it to save the life of your slave. I have now bound him to my family. He is no longer your slave so you can’t feed off of his life-force anymore, which is why you are dying before my very eyes. I want to feel bad for you, but I just don't. Nope, it’s not there."
A low meow sounded to Alana's right.
"Aww, hi baby," Alana cooed as she picked up Sophie. "See? All of those long nights of studying paid off. Mommy wins!"
Alana kissed the top of Sophie's head and put her back down to get back to business and keep her focus on the problem at hand. The little black cat wasted no time on walking up to Drake's fetal positioned body and hissing. Sophie then tilted her head, looking at Drake as if trying to figure out what to do next, and simply meowed and went back to her spot under the desk.
"Oooh, cats can sense evil, too. See? Even animals don't like you or know what to do with you. That's just no way to live, buddy," Alana pointed out.
With each passing moment, Drake looked more and more deflated, beaten, and broken. It was as if he were dehydrating. His weak tone punctuated the severity of his defeat, "You are far more wise than I expected. Won't you put me out of my misery?"
"Aww, now look who is begging? Surely we are not at the climax of our evening yet, Drake. Don't give up. The night is still young!"
"Please, I know I have done wrong, but I can make it right. All of it. Just please release me, and I will show you how to fix everything before you end my life."
"Oh, I have no intentions of ending your life. You will right all of your wrongs. There is no doubt in my mind that you will."
"How do you plan to succeed at such a task?" Drake managed to say in a low whisper.
"Well, let's just think of it as demon pest control," she quipped with a sly grin.
The knock at the door seemed to make Drake look even more fearful. Alana turned to open the door without speaking, and nodded allowing the visitors inside.
"We took the liberty of placing your sister and boyfriend on the couches in the living room. They looked a little on the uncomfortable side," the female said with a low giggle.
"I had to act quickly, and knew the only way I could get them to shut up was to knock them out for a bit. They weren’t injured where they?" Alana asked.
"No, not at all. Though, your boyfriend might have a slight headache. When I was carrying him into the living room, I accidentally hit his head on the wall. Sorry about that," the male visitor said with a slight blush; his large stature and sweet demeanor making him the complete opposite of his petit partner who looked venomous to the touch. "I tend to get clumsy when I am carrying dead weight. Ready to go, Drake?"
"Where will you take me? And who are you people?"
"We’re the ones that will make you all better. You can either live your life for good, or you will be our slave and forced to be good. Either way, your days of being a life-sucking, evil jerk are over. Sorry, buddy," the female said. "Thank you, Alana for contacting us. We felt him here, but weren't sure how to get to him. You are a genius. When Selene awakens, please have her give me a call. We miss her so much."
"Thank you for showing up so quickly and I’ll do just that. She misses you guys, too, though I don't want her leaving again. I kinda like having her around more often. I couldn’t have done all of this without her."
The male visitor was calmly lifting Drake from the floor. "I'm ready to go and I might try not to be too clumsy. This fella looks like he could use a snack, and a nap for a few hundred years." His chuckle filled the room.
"Safe travels," she said to her new friends. "I hope to never see you again in all of my days, Drake."
"Thank you, Alana," the visitors said in tandem.
"I will never cross your path, or step again. I have learned a lesson and feel there are many more coming. So, thank you."
"Blessed be," Alana said as they left her room.
Several hours later, Selene and Darien slowly started to stir while hearing voices coming from somewhere nearby. Things were still a bit foggy in their minds and they took a few moments longer to stand than normal.
"What happened?" Selene said, holding her head, attempting to shake some clarity into her mind.
"I'm honestly not even sure what… Oh God, where is Alana?!" Darien vaulted over the coffee table and made a dash for Alana's bedroom. It was in slight disarray, but nothing out of the ordinary. Then he realized the voices were coming from the kitchen and darted back up the hallway and into the kitchen in seconds.
"Well, there you two are! We were about to get worried, weren't we, Kade?" Alana said as she approached Darien, gifting him with a sweet kiss and then gathering her sister in her arms for a fierce hug. "I'm so glad you are both okay! Come, let's eat! I made breakfast!"
"Wait, what? What happened? The last thing I remember is you were in your room and we heard screaming and then voices and then we woke up in the living room," Darien pressed.
"Oh yeah, that. Well, let's just say I had some business to attend to and you were sort of distracting me, so I put you to sleep. Sorry about that. I will never do it again, I promise. It was my only option at the time so I didn't lose control of the situation," Alana confessed while starting to serve breakfast to everyone. She poured a cup of orange juice and handed it to Darien. "Drink up, you are going to be thirsty. Magic is draining."
"You used magic on me, to make me sleep?"
"Yes. To protect you, and to end the problem."
Darien's focus then went to Kade. His cousin was sitting at the table, looking like a new man. There was a brightness to his eyes that Darien had never seen before, and his skin was beautifully tanned instead of dark and dreary. Kade's smile was big and bold as he stood and took a few steps to Selene.
"There is a debt owed to you, and your sister. You aided in saving my life. I am ever in your debt."
"Well, doesn't that sound like a spicy notice so early in the morning? I might take you up on that later, but I am ravenous!"
"What a coincidence, I am, too," Kade continued. "I could use some assistance with my breakfast, I am still so weak," he feigned as if he had lost his energy.
Chuckles erupted around the room as they all sat to enjoy their meal together.
"The two of you are a force to be reckoned with," Darien said approvingly.
"Oh baby, you have no idea!" Alana agreed, then added, "Oh by the way, Selene, I found the Wish tonic before all Hell broke loose, the final piece of the spell. We can finish it later if you'd like."
"The final piece of the spell, huh? Are you planning on binding me to you, temptress?" Darien asked jokingly.
"No silly, not at all. I plan to make a Wish for you to choose me," she said with a blush.
"No spell needed, I already have."