The Life and Times

Part 3: Rhymes and Reasons

Chapter 25

"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

The Source's actuary a small demon of a pedantic nature who had survived the last turbulent ten years in demondom by its cleverness and its ability to hide behind a fašade of meekness that for the most part hide a will of iron and a determination, and the means to inflict unmitigated evil on the realms, carefully perused the list in front of him.

.Tempus leaned back in a great chair in the Source's private chamber listening to the actuary account the deeds of recent demon conquest. The actuary read the list and carefully judged Tempus reaction. Tempus, unlike his predecessors, most notably the miscreant Belthezor, was interested in minutiae of governance of the demon worlds. It was his strength and he listened to the successes of demondom, Tempus congratulated himself on the progress of his reign and hissed in a tone calculated to inspire fear at the reporting of the odd failure..

"The plan to destroy witches through financial disablement is having an affect " the actuary droned carefully to keep any tone out of it voice that might imply loss of face or criticism of failure, it was an accountant pure and simple.'

"It is well" said Tempus.

'It works best" said the actuary "in parts of the earth realm where financial success, where financial return, is judged to be a proof of endeavour,  or a social necessity, a validator of success, a means of living well. The success have been less ideal in some cultures where family support, deeds, academic or community interaction are more highly valued."

"How do we overcome this" demanded Tempus.

The actuary considered its response "We have reason to believe that academic achievement may be subverted to a climate of profit and monetary advantage." it told the Source.

"That would be useful," Tempus commented.

"The formulae does not work so well in countries and communities where financial success is not always a criteria of status but in the so called western countries we can count certain success." The actuary explained.

"Which countries?' demanded Tempus.

The actuary looked at his list. "Certain successes have been achieved in Singapore" it said "where the pressure of achieving financial security has succeeded in intimidating number of witches to use their magic to support a public economic process which is in fact leading them into more desperate debt."

"Useful" said Tempus.

"The actuary continued, "We have achieved useful results in some European cities where we have succeeded in keeping the wage and income support for teachers and health workers to a minimum. We did this by creating an atmosphere where our representatives in economic and government committee have been able to convince  authority that wage development in these areas, and in clerical and retail areas, is detrimental to economic viability."

"I do not understand," said Tempus shifting.

"No profit in spending money for social welfare or development," explained the actuary.

'This is well but how does this effect witches," asked Tempus irritably.

"My lord " said the actuary. "These are professions of women, many witches, whose costs go up, while their wages fall behind men and they fall deeper into debt and temptation to evil, all under the guise under of good economical management . And" continued the actuary "it has the added advantage that they suffer a certain social stigma through their inability to manage economically in a society that judges worth by wealth.

"This is of value"  said Tempus, almost benign. "This works in Africa?

"No my lord" the actuary explained flat voiced "Africa has its own consequences in its history of colonialism and tribal  and territorial boundaries, its religion and health issues but we are able to work well within the creation of debt so any financial gain is diverted for  payment of debts incurred many year ago, instead of being used to provide food and health services" The actuary read his list  "and the situation should continue as we have been able to tempt more leaders into substantially increasing debt with promises of personal wealth. This has the advantage of impoverishing witches and tempting innocents to desperate means which make them vulnerable to consort with evil."

"Excellent" said Tempus rubbing his hands.

"It must be noted " continued the actuary flat voiced "The use of economic  subversions have created some situations that need observation."

"How so?" Tempus asked his voice taking on a peevish tone that was often followed by fireballs.

 "It should be noted," said the actuary trying to keep its nerves under control  "That this policy does add a certain power to both rat demon cults, and the brotherhood who have also been less than powerful since the vanquishment of Raynor by. " and the actuary knew better to say the name of Belthezor, "through treason and betrayal."

"Hmm" said Tempus who was no fool "where has this policy failed?"

"There have been some failure " admitted the actuary knowing its fate was in the balance "Witches in New Zealand have slipped the net for the time being, although it is country should be a blue pint for our plan.

 "How so? " demanded Tempus shifting in his chair which the actuary noted.

"Luck " said the Actuary, "Not ours. Luck of good, stupidity. A witches was lucky in a lottery " it said, "Just luck.

"If the witch manipulated a lottery for personal gain " demanded Tempus ."it is no longer an innocent and we can.."

"No" said the actuary with regret "the accursed creature helped an innocent who gave it a lottery ticket. Just bad luck."

"And we can tempt her?" demanded Tempus.

The actuary shook its head regretfully. "She gave up half to assist her parents and used much of it to assist her poorer sisters and removed the temptation from our grasp for the present."

"Hmmm" said Tempus shifting in his chair "San Francisco?" he asked, his eyes flashing dangerously.

The actuary consulted its list '"There is a plan afoot for the Charmed Ones "it said, "that shows much promise."

"That is well" said Tempus waving his hand to dismiss the actuary, who backed away knowing it had served its master well and survived another day.

...................................................................

At the manor, because Melinda had insisted that Paige see the whole fashion show, supper was late and Rodik spent so much time complaining about his meal being reheated in microwave, to Leo's profound disappointment, he only noticed the onion at the very end of the meal.

Phoebe duly accepted the compliments about the quality of the meal.

"You're a great cook Baby " Cole told her and she stuck her tongue out at him. She did offer to clean up but Cole and Leo ended doing it because the whitelighters, Angela  and Not-Casper appeared to discuss the best way lure Willem out and make a potion and spell that worked now they had his blood.

"Tell us what the Elders decided we ought to do" muttered Piper.

Cole had to put the children to bed by himself, which he was not all that unhappy about. Leo received a call on the spirit winds to deal with the consequence of a drunken Durand getting excited in a Vladivostok brothel.

Leo started moaning bout the destruction of his plan to spend the night comparing Greek and Latin translation of St Augustine.

Cole gasped in surprise and dropped Piper's favourite glass bowl." You would rather read St Augustine than check out a Vladivostok brothel. Leo we have to talk one day. You really need to get in touch with evil side, learn to relax."

"Piper's going to kill you " Leo said glancing at the bowl before he orbed.

"She can try muttered" Cole and jumped as Rodik appeared behind him. .

"I require water" he said. Rodik preferred the expensive natural spring water. Piper had taken to refilling the bottles out of  the faucet. "That's Piper's favourite bowl" said Rodik.

"Shut the fuck up," said Cole.

Rodik took the water and sniffed. Cole waited until he had gone and flicked his fingers and put the bowl together, feeling he had scored a victory over Rodik.

He decided he was going to enjoy telling Francesca that if she had not handed her responsibilities about Durand to Leo she would have had to sort out the Durand's adventures in a Vladivostok brothel, then pursed his lips as he remembered they were not in a chatting relationship anymore.

"Damn her " he muttered.

In the attic Not-Casper after giving a long and somewhat pompous summary of the Charmed One's failures against Willem and the importance of getting him, explained the Elders were becoming just as frustrated as the Charmed Ones over the time spent chasing the warlock king. And the Elders were just as frustrated that though other witches powers assist the Charmed Ones and deflected warlock's cohorts, Willem himself remained a vague, faceless being, not much less mysterious than he was when they first heard of him.

"Yeah well take away the mystery and what have you go. Another warlock stealing power and another would be evil type trying to get more power. Been there done that " said Phoebe "I'll shut up " she said as her sisters and both whitelighters glared at her.

Not-Casper explained that the real problem would be how to vanquish Willem in a way that separated him from all the powers he had collected and allow Rodik to retrieve them. They also needed to find a way to do it so that the demon garaganas could not retrieve any demonic ones that may be separated.

Paige leaning against the Book of Shadows stand tapped her foot. "Why don't we just vanquish the bastard. Clarissa can throw the potion and tell the three of us when to say the spell and pouff he's gone."

Rodik started to open his mouth. And the whitelighters exchanged looks.

"I think it's a given the Elders want to retrieve the powers," Not-Casper answered in the patient voice that usually indicated he was aggrieved.

"Or we could just get Clarissa to point him out and mark the spot with crystals and then use a destructor spell that sent him down to the mores of hell," suggested Phoebe.

"Where evil could gain access to all his powers," interrupted Not-Casper "Which I assume you don't want to happen."

"What are you implying?" snapped Phoebe bristling.

"I imply nothing," replied the whitelighter grandly "What do you think?" he asked turning to Piper and ignoring Phoebe who stuck her tongue out at him.

"I think I need to pee," Piper replied heading for the attic door.

Piper went downstairs. Cole having finally got all the children to bed was sitting in his corner in the conservatory forced into working as a lawyer because he was alone. He squashed down an unreasonable peeve that Phoebe was busy being Charmed One and not with him then somewhat guiltily turned back to concentrating on precedents for claiming females who premeditatedly killed abusive partners was self defence and was not happy with the results. He did not notice Piper was standing there until she hissed his name.

"What " he said jumping and nearly dropping the book of California court judgements illegally borrowed from Berkeley library because his law practice could not afford a set of its own. She sat down on the chair beside him so she could talk softly.

"I told them I needed  to go to the bathroom. I have to talk to you," she told him.

"Don't get the connection, " he said grinning.

"Shut up Cole" Piper said "They are up there arguing about garganas collecting evil power. " she said. "If we get Willem, they don't want the garganas around to pick up evil powers."

Cole put the book down and regarded her quizzically.

"This doesn't seem a good idea to me" Piper said determined.

"Who are you asking?" Cole asked. " Guardian. Me. Ex demon."

"The nearest demonologist " Piper insisted "Stop being an arsehole Cole and spell out for me the vanquished, damned, dead, riddle."

"Pip I love it when you flatter me to get help " he grinned. "You really enjoy being a bitch don't you? "

Piper put her head on the side and stuck her tongue in her cheeked Cole put his hand up in self-defence .

"Okay, pax" he said " Vanquished. Witches send the departed to the wasteland. Beast sucks the power of the demon/warlock evil creature, said creature's spirit moves on to the not quite mores of hell and can be a reborn along the line."

"Sort of like demon purgatory" she asked "or limbo."

 "Sort of " he said. "Sent to mores of hell" he continued "Source gets the powers, demon never escapes condemned to hell for eternity. Evil mortal souls that are not in use stored down there too." Cole added.

"And destructor spells sends evil to the mores of hell " Piper asked "Or death by some evil magic athame, or weapon."

"Yes " said Cole "Or being a vanquished by the Source. And the Source gets the powers. Source vanquishes send to hell. Witch vanquishes lose him the demon powers."

"So its better to vanquish demons than send them to the mores of hell " Piper said.

"If you're on the side of Good, " Cole told her.

"Can those demons and evil creatures sent to the mores of hell get out?" Piper asked.

"Shouldn't" said Cole "All those cults and hives and monsters guard the place. The ones that were coming into the realm a few years ago. Before evil got the Grimoire back.

"Demon of fear got out?" Piper mused .

" You vanquished the source " Cole explained "Out of control down there because there was no coroneted Source. No Source to serve so the monsters ah. left their post."

"Oh " sad Piper.

"We all make mistakes," Cole said primly .

"Don't be an arsehole." Piper sighed "Warlocks Cole " "she said .

"You vanquish. Good get the powers if a retriever is around. Warlock goes to wasteland," Cole told her.

"How do they get reborn?" Piper asked

"Same way good does when their spirit is summoned." Cole told her.

"Who summons them?" Piper asked and Cole the guardian suddenly feeling the spirit winds shift shook his head. Piper like her sisters, these days was able to recognise the guardian expression. "What if no-on picks up the powers?" she asked accepting his lack of response.

"They float around until they merge in it the realm." Cole answered.

"What about evil ones?" Piper asked.

"Warlocks aren't supposed to collect evil powers," Cole said primly.

Piper glared at him.

"Okay just another evil lie" he grinned. "Warlocks collect evil powers. If they are vanquished they float around up here become part of the realm," he said "Or with some really bad luck get picked up some freaky magic creature who has a demon core in his soul." Cole added with a derisive smile "Which is really not a good idea."

"You behave very badly with new demon powers "Piper commented with a smug leer.

"I know," said Cole .

"So I guess we go with the vanquish, keep the garganas plan. Let evil have back its evil powers, rather than keep it up there." Piper decided.

 "That would suit me," Cole said still prim. "And don't confuse demonic and evil."

"Or we vanquish the damned warlock and let the whole lot good power, evil power get eaten by the beast.

"That would also suit me" said Cole.

"Don't be an arsehole Cole " Piper said .

"Sure" he replied and the laughter in his voice died as there was sniff from the stairs.

"I require water" said Rodik loudly and sniffing again for effect he went to the kitchen.

"Hope he pisses himself on all that water he's drinking" Cole told Piper.

She laughed, "I'll call you if he does Brudder" Piper said touching his shoulder then turning to go back upstairs.

Cole sighing returned to legal precedents.

Rodik appeared a few seconds later from the kitchen. He cast a sneering glance at Cole "I don't like you" he said-"I don't think you are worthy of a Charmed One. I think you are corrupting your wife and if you weren't married I would make sure the Elders tore you apart. "

"Tough " shrugged Cole.

"I have excellent hearing" Rodik added as a final thrust before sniffing and stomping upstairs.

Cole laughed.

Piper returned upstairs to find another whitelighter present, a woman of indiscriminate age, white haired and somewhat ethereal expression.

"This is Alana" Phoebe, her expression, pissed told Piper "Alana is an Elder. Came to confirm instructions."

Alana put a hand out to shake hands with Piper and then with glance at Not-Casper, who shuffled uncomfortably, explained her colleagues felt that some direct intervention was necessary to hasten proceedings.

"Charmed Ones out of control and they don't trust Phoebe," Paige translated for Piper.

"I am here to ensure that the Charmed Ones understand that retrieving the powers of this warlock king is as important as vanquishing it" explained the Elder," which it appears they do not understand. The powers that can be retrieved from this warlock can do great things for Good."

Rodik came back in the attic and sniffed loudly in vindication. He pushed past Piper and put himself beside the Elder who looked him up and down with all the contempt of an upper level Angel and stepped away from him. Phoebe and Piper exchanged glances.

Piper crossed her arms and cocking her head on the side. "If the potion and spell separates the power from the warlock " she said  very firm " it will also separate the evil powers that this warlock has collected and if the gargana, evil power retrievers turn up it means evil gets back more powers than Good. "

"This warlock " said Angela  in a meek voice in deference to the Elder "is the king. You know the witches in India who keep the records of demon losses think he has been collecting tithes on enormous numbers of demonic powers lost over the last years " she added softly, while the Elder listened patiently but not, it appeared to the Charmed Ones, with any conviction.

"I do not even understand why this conversation si taking place" sniffed Rodik trying to wheedle close to the Elder Alana who stepped away. Both Angela and Not-Casper noticed this and raised their eyes, with expressions on their faces that were not entirely angelic.

"You have a potion to vanquish the warlock and all you have to do is make sure, it separates the powers." Rodik sniffed.

Paige walked over and planted herself firmly beside Piper and crossed her arms and rested her weight, on one leg, a picture of defiance. "Isn't it better to get rid of the damned warlock without risking evil getting stronger from all the powers Willem's collected." She glared at the whitelighters "This way he's gone in a pouff. No risk to us. No danger to any one."

"Nothing more important than retrieving powers" Rodik sniffed " there is no point getting this king if we can't retrieve the powers.

"Well from what I've seen Rodik seems to miss half the warlock powers, even when we set him up" said Phoebe crossing the room to stand with her sisters. "All that happens is we get his warlock, his pals come around to collect floating powers and make themselves king. If we just vanquish him, no risk of powers going back to evil."

The Charmed Ones stood opposite the whitelighters with Rodik snivelling as close to the Elder as possible.

Piper crossed and recrossed her arms "We have the means, or will have when we get the potion right. Just lets get the bastard and move on. We've wasted enough time on him."

"There is no point  at all going after him " Rodik sniffed twice. "If we don't go after the powers."

 "Shut the fuck up " said Piper, Phoebe and Paige to the shock of the Elder.

"Going after the powers could get one of us killed" said Paige "And I promise you my friend, you do, you get some-one killed and you will live to regret it. "

"Or not " said Piper angry.

"Rodik gets a witch killed he will regret it " said Not-Casper firmly.

"I do not see how getting powers back helps Good an when evil gets more" Piper insisted.

"Its all about the powers" sniffed Rodik. " witches should be glad to take the risks, the pain because nothing matter more."

Phoebe snorted "Its all about you getting your orgasmic kicks collecting the powers" she told Rodik scornfully. While Paige and Piper laughed.

"The only pleasure I get is the fulfilment of knowing I have served Good and that all the pain I endure because of my dedication " Rodik sniffed very loud glancing at the Elder who pursed her lips " working with undeserving witches, suffering a thousand slings and hurts from cruel words, living in miserable conditions. Sacrifices I am quite prepared to confess are worth it, knowing I serve Good and that my works provides a valuable and essential part of winning our battle.

"Oh shut the fuck up" said Phoebe, Piper, Paige, Angela and Not-Casper, while the Elder eyed the whitelighters with a severe and shocked expression of disapproval, and took a second to glare at Rodik.

Rodik sniffed louder than ever and followed it up by a snuffle " We get the powers or not at all " he said.

"Don't see how you get say," said Phoebe.

"Any way" said Paige getting sick of the argument "This is all mute. We need to get the potions to work one way or another. Getting that damned blood was to costly to risk wasting it with a potion that does not do the job."

"Work on it" suggested Alana firmly as she nodded to both the whitelighters and then orbed.

"The Elders understand the Greater Magic" said Not-Caper apologetically "It is their calling to ensure that Good wins the battle. They are not always concerned with practicalities." He orbed.

Angela shrugged a little uncomfortably and nodded and orbed.

The witches looked at each other.

"Do you think we should tell them?" said Piper.

"Tell them what?" sniffed Rodik."

"You're a fuckwit " said Phoebe belligerently. "Oh I forgot we did" she added as Paige laughed.

Rodik with massive sniff did not deign to answer. He turned and headed for the door. He stopped and somewhat grandly said " You will be punished," and exited grandly.

A few seconds later they heard a thump and a crash. Phoebe looked at the her sisters and went to the door. "Rodik fell down the last few steps" she told them "Damn he's all right."

"I think Melinda worked out how to do selective time delay trip spells today " Piper tried to sound disapproving and failed. " I caught her staring at the steps and muttering 'Mean old Wodik' after he upset her, and me. She told him he'd be sorry later."

"Melinda is a Halliwell " said Phoebe proudly. "Where did you disappear too during happy hour?" she asked Piper as she collapsed into the rocking chair.

"Asked Cole about vanquishing and separating powers" Piper muttered.

"You asked Cole for advice?" Phoebe said dumfounded."

"I'm getting desperate to get this over with " sighed Piper embarrassed. "Basically the answer is separating powers is not a good idea unless we can find a way to make sure the evil ones stay with him when we vanquish him."

"How do we do that?" asked Phoebe.

"Work on it " said Piper throwing herself on the sofa.

"Work on it "snorted Paige thumping the Book of Shadows .

"Pů.aige" hissed Phoebe. "That's an heirloom."

"Its my book too" Paige smirked as Phoebe stuck her tongue out. "Get Marly over to see if she can work out something with the potions. She is knows about but herbs, she may have some ideas." she suggested.

"Marly won't come near the place will Rodik is here " Piper said "Never heard any one so shy so determined about it."

"Get rid of him for while," suggested Paige.

"Get rid of him forever," suggested Piper hopefully.

"Or you could just freeze him while she's helping," suggested Paige.

"It could take all day " said Piper.

"Damn" said Paige.

"You could freeze him all day in the attic and hang St John's wort off him," suggested Phoebe.

"And poison ivy" said Paige.

"He allergic to them" said Piper.

 "I know " said Phoebe.

"Sisters. We work real good together"  grinned Paige.