The Life and Times

Part 2: Friends, family and other contradictions

Chapter 21


"To expostulate why day is day, night night, and time is time, 
were nothing but to waste night, day, and time"
Hamlet, Act ii, Sc.2

Leo had been called to Durand during the night. He came home the next morning to a Phoebe who seemed as if she was in another realm ,so self contained that Leo genuinely wondered if the quiet thoughtful woman was really Phoebe. Piper had had another experience during the night exchanging with a Pillywiggin, fairies who tended spring flowers. Piper had had a happy night  flitting around highly aromatic flowers and was more than a little intoxicated from the experience. She was staying in bed for a few hours she told Leo as he orbed in.

In the kitchen Rodik was complaining, Paige used the hot water before she went to work.

"Shut the fuck up " said Leo automatically.

Cole was finishing off feeding the children and Rodik started moaning about Piper and Paige's absence. Leo met Cole's eyes as Rodik continued his monologue. Cole made a throat slitting motion and Leo barely suppressed a laugh as Rodik turned on Phoebe to demand action.

"Okay " she said calmly and started to recite the all purpose vanquish the lowly magic spell.

Rodik flung himself behind Cole. Leo wondered why.

"Don't like that action " said Phoebe calmly " Okay " I'm going to work. She kissed children and Cole. "I'll call you baby " she said.

Rodik in high dungeon bounced out of the kitchen "I have to meditate" he said.

"Thought  he would never go " said Leo "I need to ask something."

"Where were you? " asked Cole.

"Durand " Leo answered "He got exchanged with an archangel. He was in a bit of shock . Ironic hey."

"I suppose they know right from wrong " said Cole impressed.

"Girl's whitelighter caught up with me in the rim " said Leo "Asked why the warlocks aren't attacking the manor. I said that they had a warlock protection spell on the house and he wanted to know why the girls had not shared it with other witches."

"Ouch " said Cole.

"He wondered if it was demonic." said Leo "I told him it was power of three. I was wondering if it ought to come off. Make up some explanation.

"What and leave Melinda unprotected " Cle looked amazed Leo could even suggest it.

"Maybe we should look at a few other options, just in case" Leo said " I was wondering if you know how to make those crystals work, the ones Phoebe told me Arturo uses to warn about magic creatures."

"I don't know how, like I don't know how so many things work." Cole answered regretfully "And they only warn I think " he added "Francesca told me to ask him for them so I did. Arturo he looked at me like I was some sort of maggot and said if I wanted the magic I needed to learn myself."

"Maybe I should see if Francesca can tell me how to make them " said Leo.

"Good idea " said Cole. "But I'm not taking the warlock bar off the house."


"Good lord " said Francesca when Leo called her to met him in a small café not far from the mall, hoping she would not think him out of line for asking for things that were family business " I have no idea. Not my business or interest, Ask Arturo, It's his business and interest."

"I can't ask Arturo that" Leo said.

"Why not " said Francesca " he has the answer you want "

Leo looked a little uncomfortable.

"Oh Leo " Francesca said almost annoyed. "Arturo is not a higher being to be approached with awe and subservience because he is a higher being. Arturo is not a god, or a ruler, or a elder . You only need respect him for what he has done."

"He's a guardian " Leo said again.

"Yes well " said Francesca very schoolmarm" if guardians are respected and treated with awe for simply being guardians why do you and your whole family yell at Cole so much."

"I " said Leo "Its….you know I have great affection for Cole and I genuinely admire him for his courage and what he has so willingly paid to be what he is.:."

"So do I " said Francesca " none of which stops me for telling at him off for behaving like a brat." She smiled.

Leo suddenly grinned. "You mean for being an arsehole" he said.

"Yes " said Francesca.. "Do not try and make Arturo into something he is not " Francesca said. "When what he is, is so worthy. Besides if you had known him a thousand years ago you would have been advising your charges how to destroy him. I certainly did " she said primly " and he hasn't changed that much " she added.

Leo laughed and nodded.

"Ask Arturo about the crystals" Francesca told Leo after she told him how to find Arturo's time fold.

Leo glanced behind him and shifted around.

"What's the matter?" Francesca asked.

"I'm feeling a bit odd " said Leo "Sort of.. Oh I don't know. Shadowed " he said.

"I've been feeling that way myself " Francesca told him "I assume it's the eclipse."

"Have you any idea who or what it was?" Leo asked Francesca.

"No " she said.

"I can only hope " said Leo.

"That is all any of us can do " said Francesca stoically as she insisted on paying the bill.

Leo orbed into Arturo's living room, around noon. Even though it was still winter the weak sun made its presence felt in the powerful clear light coming into the unshuttered room.

Leo looked around the room. He saw the crystals flashing and felt decidedly like an intruder. He called Arturo's name and waited and walked and looked at the lights and the paintings and wondered if they were real and then decided that he had no business being there and started to orb stopping as Arturo shimmered.

"Leo such an honour " Arturo said urbanely.

Leo felt awkward and uncomfortable, made worse by the shadow on his soul. He wondered if it was the time fold. He explained what he had come for.

"Crystals " said Arturo "Certainly. They warn about magic beings." He added.

"Why won't you give them to Cole?" Leo asked.

"Because Belthezor needs to investigate all their properties " Arturo explained. "I had to and he will when he gets annoyed and frustrated enough to try."

"Are they something about them that connects to higher magic?" Leo asked suddenly insightful.

Arturo smiled " I wouldn't think that will happen in your house " he said as Leo glanced around the house. He removed some crystals from the cabinet and gave them to Leo.

"Couldn't you give this to Cole?" Leo asked.

"Belthezor must find his knowledge." Arturo said "For you it s a gift .To a friend.

"Thank you " Leo said and shuddered a little which Arturo noticed. "This place, the time fold is ..curious " Leo explained " it weighs on you yet…."

"Its Delphi " said Arturo "Probably the only place in the realm strong enough to hide my magic now" he said "Ever been to the site of the oracle? " he asked.

 Leo shook his head.

"Come be a tourist and a visitor. You wish to find wisdom in history. This is history." Arturo asked.

Arturo shimmered quietly into the edge of the road, beside the entrance to the site, and Leo followed. he looked around, seeing the ruins of Delphi on the hill above him, and the Corinthian Gulf below.

"Its a small thing" Arturo said "but an honourable one" as he paid to enter the site. And Leo smiled.

The walked past the stones and few tourists in the quiet hours just after lunch, passing ruined marble and stone buildings, house and temples.

Leo looked at one of the temple remains as Arturo watched him ."Feel it " Arturo said "feel the magic. That was the home of the oracle."

"I read Herodotus " Leo said.

"Do you?" said Arturo amused "How noble."

Leo smiled.

"Its the  magic of the age and the eons, and this realm." Arturo said. "At one point where we stand was the magic centre of the known worlds. It is good for creatures who think they have power to stand before this great magic."

Leo saw where the Oracle had sat and cast her words to leaders and kings, farmers and soldiers. Looking over the buildings and ruins below, the gulf that Arturo loved, the olive groves and Cyprus trees that was in its fold of time not so different than the ancient oracles had seen.

They walked slowly up to the top of the hill, to the stadium still bright in the cold winter sun of Greek afternoon.

"Do you feel it ?" Arturo asked.

"I fel the .. I feel the continuity, the sense of destiny and timelines." Leo said.

"That is true magic:" said Arturo who found peace there. He walked over to the stone set in the edge of the stadium "Alexander the Great sat here you know " he said "When he watched the games after visiting the oracle. Before my time. Before he conquered the world."

"I wonder if he understood when the oracle told him to make haste it was because he would die young" Leo pondered.

 "Well that's the thing about oracles . Arturo said. " They are subject to interpretation."

"I read about King Croseus in Herodotus " Leo said "When the oracle told King Croseus he would destroy a great empire if he went to war with Persia. So he went to war, not realising it would be his empire that would be destroyed when he lost."

"Francesca tells you me you seek wisdom in history in our lore. It strikes me that story is worth repeating " Arturo smiled.

"I find that story a great cautionary tale " Leo commented.

"What have you discovered Leo "Arturo asked " in your search for philosophy?"

"That I know very little ": Leo said and Arturo smiled. "I know it strikes me as almost unbalanced that good can falter and go evil and yet its beings can survive and even stay part of good. I have seen my charges evil and return and yet it seems almost impossible for evil can cross except " he looked as Arturo acknowledged what Leo said with a smile. "You would think there would be means evil can repent."

"I have pondered that question myself " Arturo said as they sat on the seat where Alexander had sat before he changed the known worlds. "I have concluded that by definition a creature that can repent evil, cannot be evil. And a creature that is evil cannot repent.

"So you were never totally evil" Leo asked.

"Obviously not" said Arturo "As I have repented. But it must not be forgotten that in order to repent evil I had to do evil. Knowing it was evil."

"But you do not do evil now " said Leo.

"I am sadly closer to the temptation than I thought" Arturo said grimly "Judging by recent events."

"But every-one in my house believes themselves to be good, well with one exception and they have been tempted " Leo said.

"I often feel the great strength of good is that it supports and does not destroy its fractured and fallible adherents. " Arturo said as he stared ahead not even noticing two tourists clicking on cameras, unaware they were in the magic centre of the realm.

"There would be very few left on the side of Good if it didn't " Leo said.

Arturo laughed "Practical is Good" he said." Evil destroys them and I wonder sometimes if that is its great weakness. It failures to understand the value of failure. Where Good learns from failure and weaknesses. Evil in destroying its imperfect never learns how to grown and gain. I think sometimes good's support of the fallible is its greatest strength. I know its whitelighters great strength is the ability to understand that fallibility in their charges.

"I know" Leo said "I learned the Charmed Ones are unique in finding strength from what many would consider weakness.".

"Exceptional " said Arturo " Unique no. It supports creatures, like that damnable retriever, weak, almost powerless and personally I can understand the need the desire to kill him " Arturo sighed "I very nearly did the other day," he confessed "and yet the whitelighters say what they gain from his gift is often why Good wins, just.. The protection of the weak and the innocent and the fallible is Good's great advantage."

"You make being a whitelighter sound a more noble calling than I found It to be" Leo smiled.

"You found a different path and from what I understand one that has saved a great Power of Magic from giving into weakness " Arturo told Leo.

"I don't understand " Leo said..

"I was becoming concerned Francesca would finally find a way to vanquish a guardian" Arturo said. "Kill Durand " Arturo explained as Leo looked puzzled." It is a thought that has crossed my mind and I suspect Proctor's too. "Arturo said ". He turned toward Leo. "Evil looks to masters and desire for its mentors and guides. Good looks for those who have the wisdom and the ability to embrace that fragility."

"I don't know if to many whitelighters have succeeded in embracing that with the Charmed Ones" Leo laughed.

"The Charmed Ones are particularly … fallible " Arturo smiled. "Attractive but fallible ".

Leo watched the shadows coming over the hill as the day passed and felt the shadow that seemed to be following him. "Do you think he asked slowly " that the oracles, who if Herodotus is right, spoke their premonitions because they were using hallucinatory drugs, realised how their words change the course of history."

"Probably not' said Arturo "All they wanted was gold and silver. But you never know do you, about consequence. Small things, words spoken in jest, a simple conversation about philosophy can, perhaps, change the history of worlds and realms, or not as the case may be."

"Its just this place " said Leo a little embarrassed when he realised he was sharing some of his deepest thoughts with a great demon guardian."

Arturo recognising his concern laughed "If anything you or I say today changes the course of history of earth, of the realms, you well tell me won't you?"

Leo grinned " I will " he promised. "Thank you " he said "For the crystals and your time."

"Its my pleasure " said Arturo as Leo orbed. He stood up and walked down the hill, stopping occasionally to look at the view of the gulf and contemplate what the tourists considered to be just  another pile of broken rocks.


It took two days before the witches located warlock activity which justified hunting them down, which left Rodik frustrated and angry and spiteful. He complained of the girls their failure to live up to the ideals of their heritage, their lack of interest in their heritage.

"Get stuffed" said Piper.

Some of Rodik's frustration must have been shared by Willem because his minions were out and about in San Francisco trying to tempt the Charmed Ones into action. Most of the covens were warned about the warlock war and stayed well clear but Jade eventually had one of the covens on the other side of the bay contact her about constant harassment to the point they could not even get children to school.

The witches when Rodik was not around had  started to scry for warlocks on the realm map and at first  picked up just large concentrations of power but were soon able to recognise Willem's signature. And this time he had come to the earth realm. Hanging around a small woodland park behind a school attended by a number of children of witches in the area.

"He wants me, he got me " said Phoebe. "Lets go get him and his cronies sisters" almost happy to be going out . She called Cole and told him, and he somewhat nervously promised no matter what to stay away.

Jade said she had a few problems with cars. " My husband blew an engine in his car and he has to use mine. And he doesn't get paid until Friday so it will be next week until I'm mobile again. Can you orb me?." she asked.

Paige said she would pick up Clarissa who could not be orbed and then come for Jade. Piper reluctantly called P3 to put a meeting about booze excise off and said she would drive Phoebe and Rodik.

On the way over Paige somewhat concerned asked Clarissa if she was okay with the idea of going for Willem. "The athame we have isn't powerful enough to kill him" she explained "But you maybe able to wound him enough to get the blood."

Clarissa felt the knife. "Not all that sharp" she said.

"No but its magic so he should not be able to turn it on you " Paige explained.

"I don't normally get to do this physical fighting in their face" said Clarissa." Live and learn" she added "I feel like a real warrior for Good."

They drove to Jade's house and Paige blew the horn. Jade came running and jumped in the car. With Clarissa in the backseat, Paige drove toward the wood. On the way Jade asked if either Clarissa or Paige had any unusual experiences. "You know my whitelighter warned me there was some movement in the spirit winds that might lead to harmless hallucinations " she said.

"Mine too, but nothing " said Clarissa regretfully. "My usual immunity to magic I guess."

"Me neither " said Paige tightly.

"I had one the other day which was just interesting" Jade said "I felt like I was living the life of a witch in Nigeria. It was interesting, just family and simple magic and then I had to take on this really nasty demon, claiming to be an aid worker he was tempting all the boys into a line of work that was straight demonic. Me and a couple of witches from the village got him. Funny how I read in the paper a day or so later how scandalised the aid agency was about being given the flick from this Nigerian village."

"Wow " said Clarissa while Paige concentrated on the road.

"The other one scared the hell out of me " said Jade. "I thought I was a witch in Scotland four hundred years ago. She was about to be burned at the stake. Really brave woman, they were promising to let her off if she named other witches and she stuck it out. She was scared witless but she wouldn't name. Last thing I remember was when this almost demonic spirit, a beautiful woman appeared to finish her before the flames did." Jade said. "Incredible woman but it scared me."

"I often wonder why the powers that be let all that witch burning happen " said Clarissa. "And no –one did anything to protect or help them."

"I suppose like they let all the other rotten stuff that happens in our life " said Paige and then remembered the existence of the realm map at the manor, the one the fairies had made to give witches a place to hide out of the earth realm.

They arrived at the dirt road that lead to the wood where the warlocks were stalking witches. Phoebe and Piper were leaning on the hood of Piper's SUV scrying. Paige pulled her green bug up opposite.

"Warlock central " said Phoebe happily, all witch again.

Piper took charge. "Okay she said we figure they will come at Phoebe to try and get her to call for help. I guess they figure that she has some magic connection to call, so they probably will aim to make Phoebe think she will die, so she will call for help. It isn't Phoebe's power they are after, but the rest of us, they will want the power as a bonus. Only nothing is going to come " she added "Because Belthezor was vanquished."

The witches nodded .

"That 's not important " said Rodik.

"Shut the fuck up " said all five witches.

"Clarissa stays back and watches with Paige." Piper continued "As soon as she gets a fix on Willem she goes for him with the athame. Paige sticks beside her no matter what and fights, sends anything back. Willem is still there and even if Paige can't remember she can still fight him."

"Just stay behind me" said Clarissa "Any magic power that he uses should bounce off me.

"Just make sure I get the warlock's powers" said Rodik.

"Shut the fuck up " said all five witches.

The fight went pretty much to plan. About ¾ of a mile into the wood, not far from the school fence, just close enough to be able to watch witch children in the yard, they located the warlocks or the warlocks located them. Four they knew of attacked and three went for Phoebe while one tried to use some sort of tremor power to keep Jade and Piper away. Piper got him and Rodik took an orgasmic delight in jumping the power.

Clarissa and Paige hid watching the fight.

"Over there about fifty yards away " Clarissa whisper and to Paige's surprise out of site of the fight, with a little focusing she could get quite a clear view of the Dracula like very old fashioned warlock.

"Let" s go get him " said Clarissa and they edged over, noticing that Phoebe and Paige and Jade were having the devil's own fight. Rodik remained hidden except once when he tried the trick of jumping out to force a witch to protect him but then jumped out of harm's way pretty quickly when he realised no-one was going to help.

It was not until the warlock Willem heading for the fight himself focused on by Clarissa and Paige that Paige lost the plot, and even then knowing he was there she had fleeting impressions of the shadowy figure. The fight went into a blur and at the end Phoebe and Piper were rubbing bruised and battered bodies and Jade had a scorch mark up one arm which Paige fixed for her.

One last warlock had a try and Piper blew it up.

Rodik moved forward into the dust and with organism pleasure sucked in the warlocks powers and to Piper's not unconcealed pleasure lost the effect when he coughed and spluttered out the demonic powers the warlock had once held.

"Oops forget to let the demon retrievers know where the fight is " said Phoebe.

"I told you to be careful blowing them up like that " snarled Rodik peevishly at Piper "It contaminates the good powers when evil is not separated first."

"Shut the fuck up" said Piper almost automatically as she went to help Clarissa.

Clarissa was left standing with a bloodied athame which she clutched in her left hand while her right hung loosely and a black eye."

"Is that broken?" said Paige.

"Sprained I think " said Clarissa "So much for a noble enemy. The bastard punched me in the face and tried to wring my hand off."

Piper took the athame from her and they gently tested her arm for breaks.

"Think its okay" said Piper.

Rodik still in an orgasmic cycle from the two powers he had collected started to bitch about the powers of the ones he lost.

"Shut the fuck up " said all five witches as he was drawn upward.

"Thought he'd never go" said Jade. "If you can't kill Rodik, can't you mangle him a bit. What the hell is the point of being so powerful if you can't make a stinking weasel miserable."

"He is miserable " said Phoebe " He just ..You know Misery likes company. Ouch"  she said feeling very sore and sorry because she was limping very badly on a sprained right ankle.

"You want me to try and fix that?" Paige asked.

"Its muscle " said Phoebe "Maybe it better be some whitelighter who knows a bit about muscle or wait till we get home to explore a bit.

"I'll orb you home " said Paige. "Then come back for my car."

The other witches went back to the cars.

"At leat we got this " Piper said brandishing the bloodied athame in its baggie.

She had barely said the words when a fireball came out of nowhere. Paige returning from the manor caught the damned Dracula warlock throwing a fireball. She called almost to late and Piper ducked but Clarissa caught the fireball in the middle of her chest. It bounced off her and deflected, to Paige's unbelievable horror and shock ,straight from Clarissa into her green car and the car incinerated into a massive fireball leaving nothing but cinder.

And then the warlock seemed to disappear.

"Are you all right?" Paige said calmly to Clarissa as she struggled to her feet, her clothes totally incinerated. Paige pulled off her afghan and Clarissa almost smiling put it on.

"Great " she said "I'm going to get arrested  for being naked in the street." She looked at the pile of ash that had been Paige's car "Sorry about the car " she said, uncomfortably.

"Its just a car, an old one that's nearly 6 years old." Paige said calmly.

"I have to get to the club and Clarissa can't orb," Piper said not missing her sister's face had that same blank look she got when she was hurting to badly to cry. "We'll get you another."

"I'll orb you to the club now " Paige said taking charge, quiet in control car and then drive Clarissa and Jade back .I can get changed and pick you up at the club, in a couple of hours ".

"Great" said Piper as they helped Clarissa to the SUV, and then Paige orbed her to P3. Paige returned to the SUV  where Clarissa huddled in the front passenger while Jade a sat behind her in the back, putting a comforting hand on Clarissa's shoulder. Paige stopped and stared at the pile of ashes that used to be her precious bug.

She looked at Clarissa and shrugged, swallowing hard as she climbed in the SUV driver's seat. "Its only a car" she said and started the SUV.

"Well only a car or not " said Clarissa as they drove. "Its a big part of most people's lives. And a necessity and not something the budget stretches to replacing easily. Insurance cover it ?" she asked hopefully.

"Not really even if I could explain how we lost it. And the money to replace, hell we are struggling to pay the council taxes on the house at the moment." Paige answered, still in control.

"Tell me about it " sighed Clarissa " even ihough  the shop trashing was not as bad as we first thought, just the income I'm losing and Mike eek."

"Yeah well I can orb and cars can be replaced " sighed Paige " if you hadn't been immune to magic. If that fireball had gone at Piper you know…."

"If doesn't count " said Clarissa. "and we can't even blame Rodik.'

"I can blame that  little bastard for an awful lot " said Jade.

"Never seems to learn, or does not care as long as he gets his kicks stealing warlock powers." Paige said angrily because she needed to blame some-one.

"Yeah " said Clarissa "Sometimes I wish I could get some of my non magic into that cloud that sucks him up so the bottom collapsed and him would fall out of it:" Clarissa mused still shaky.

"That would be worth seeing especially the look his eyes as it happened. "Jade agreed.

"Phoebe tried to kill Rodik " Paige told Clarissa and Jade "Only Leo stopped her by grabbing her and gagging her. Cole comes in and sees Leo and Phoebe wrestling around and asks 'What are you doing?' And Leo says all prim .'Stopping your wife killing Rodik. Oh says Cole all arsehole lawyer "Why?."

"I knew there was a reason why I liked Cole" Clarissa said as Jade laughed.

They pulled up at Clarissa's house. She moaned "I think I have bruises on my bruises where I hit the ground". I wish I was immune to rocks."

"I'll  help you " Paige said and put her arms around Clarissa to help her hobble into the house where they were met by her husband Mike who could barely contain his anger and wanted to know what the hell it was that a bastard like Rodik could just get away with risking every-one for a few lost powers. Mike angrily snarled that he did not see what the point was in being on the side of Good when all they got was financial ruin, hurt and no thanks or help and barely an acknowledgement.

The last thing Paige heard her say was "Mike please" and Paige grimanced as she slipped into the back seat of the car and orbed Jade home.

"At least I'm in time to be here when the kids get home" Jade said " Mike was pretty angry. The guys have a hard time of this, so do the kids." She shook her head "Great day.Burnt at the stake, and watched that shit Rodik getting orgasmic fits. Wonder how this will end " she said. "Who will pay . I always figure there is a cost " she said sympathetically  to Paige

"Just a car" said Paige giving her a hug.