How Quaint the Ways of Paradox

Part 1: Time and Time Again

Chapter 1


"How quaint the ways of paradox;  At common sense she gaily mocks"

(Gilbert and Sullivan. Pirates of Penzance)

For everything there is a season,
And a time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 8


Phoebe Halliwell woke up slowly regretting the necessity of waking up. Her mouth tasted like shit, her stomach turned, nauseated. Waking up wishing she had never been born. Again.


“Ohh“ she thought “Hangover, to much booze. Again. “ She remembered. It was the day after her birthday; the day after she was 29, Ickk she was 29, and when she woke up this time next year she would be 30 and when she woke up in ten years time she would be... Forget it she would not wake up in 10 years time. If the demons did not get her the booze would.


She tried to open her eyes and the light hit them and she shut them tightly. And then she became aware that she was not alone in the bed.


“Oops“ she thought “Sleazebag at 9 o’clock. “


Whatever had she done last night, she could not remember fucking any sleazebags. She firmly shut her eyes. She could not remember meeting any sleazebags last night. Actually she could not remember anything from last night. Carefully she put her hand out and touched him.


“Oow” she thought “Hairy sleazebag.” She moved the hand more, hmm a thigh, really muscled hairy sleazebag. She moved her hand down , to much effort.


“Hmm” she thought “Tall muscular hairy sleazebag.”


She moved her hand up. “Hairy chest, sleazebag, “she thought.


She moved her hand down.


“Flat as a wash board stomach sleazebag “she thought. She moved her hand further down.


“Hmmm” she thought “God damned, hairy tall, muscular hung like a horse sleazebag.”


She opened her eyes very slowly. Gradually the burning light eased and she glanced around. Her room. Then she sprung up.


“Shit” she thought “Sleazebag in the Manor alert.”


 Piper had threatened to throw her out if she ever brought another sleazebag into the Manor.


She looked down at the man lying beside her.


“Yowee” she thought “God damned muscular, hairy tall badly in need of a shave, drop dead gorgeous, blue eyed sleazebag at nine o’clock “ she thought.


Cole looked at her an amused a wry smile on his face, he removed the hand hovering around his groin, brought it to his mouth and kissed it.  “Having your fun baby” he said “Happy Birthday for yesterday.”


“Who the hell are you?” Phoebe said falling back on the pillow “Shit you better get out of here?” she said.


Cole gulped and said “Phoebe! “


“Mister“ she said “I don’t know where I found you but wherever it was, if I were you I would get back to it. “ She pulled the sheet back and looked him over.  “I don’t usually have this good taste. I usually like ‘em skinny and, well not like you. Special birthday present for me. “


‘Phoebe?’ Cole gulped again.


She smiled at him, the smile of a woman who had known to many men and had never known love. “I don’t remember what we did but“ she looked him over with an appreciative eye “it looks like it could have been fun.’


Cole wondering if she was playing her games said again “Phoebe?”


“Listen mister“ she said“ Do me a favour. My sister Piper will kill me if she finds another sleazebag in the Manor, in my room, in my bed. “ She looked him up and down appreciatively.  “Actually do yourself a favour as well as me. Get out of here before my sister sees you. The way she has been since she got divorced, she’ll probably kill me and fuck you. Either way we’re both in trouble. “


“Me. Fuck Piper. Piper divorced. Phoebe. Baby. “ Cole said half sitting up and then falling back on the pillow as he slowly realised that overnight Phoebe’s hair had changed from blond streaked to very dark brown and whatever time line he was not in it was not the same one he had been as last night when he and a blond Phoebe celebrated her 29th birthday with dinner and dancing on a very late night harbour cruise, and came back to the Manor for the most incredible fucking, screwing, making love they had shared in the three years and more roller coaster of their relationship.




Underworld Coronation Chamber.


Paige put her foot to the iron bars and kicked hard . The door gave way and the three witches moved out. 


“Wow“ said Paige “Look at the Grimoire still there.”


“It looks like the balance between good and evil just swung in our favour.” said Piper.


Phoebe looked at it. “ Its time to get rid of that book once and for all. “




Underworld Coronation Chamber.


“Wow“ said Paige “Look at the Grimoire still there.”


“It looks like the balance between good and evil just swung in our favour.” said Piper.


Phoebe looked at it. “ Its time to get rid of that book once and for all. “



Underworld Coronation Chamber.


“It looks like the balance between good and evil just swung in our favour.” said Piper.


Phoebe looked at it. “ Its time to get rid of that book once and for all. “




As demons go this one did not have the aura of fear that for instance the hooded vision of the old Source had created. In human form, smallish, grey haired even benign, unless you closely at the eyes, knowing, sly, clever, evil incarnate.


Tempus sitting upright and prim on the elevated throne of the Source looked at the demon Kreto who knelt in front of him, a good looking young man with a shaved head and a devious effeminate face trembled or at least appeared to be trembling, then he noticed the demon look up slyly, carefully, when he thought Tempus was distracted.


Not a demon that thought to survive would have done that to the old Source, the old Source would have evaporated him, with lightening power that only the Source could have. But Tempus did not have that power. It was a power the Source took through the Coronation ceremony, and there had been no ceremony for Tempus because there was no Grimoire to swear on, and consequently no power.


So Tempus was not the Source of all Evil, he was just the demon who was strongest, the one who held sway over the most factions, the one who was smartest and most cunning, the leader of evil but he was not the Source and if the highest councils and upper level demons had not been destroyed in the blood bath of the Seer immolation, Tempus would not have been that.


Tempus weakened from the efforts to kill the Charmed Ones and once one of the old Source’s closest cohorts had fallen from grace, because when the Old Source had taken over Belthezor, that entity had not wanted to hear about the destruction of the Charmed Ones. Tempus had been to influential and powerful to openly slight but Belthezor had managed to exclude him from the Inner Circle those last months. Ironically his fall from grace meant he was the only demon from the Inner circle of the Old Source who had survived the Immolation.


He achieved where he was because he was the highest level demon left in the realm, and demons worshipped in hierarchies but demons sought to increase their power by fighting their way through the hierarchies and already Tempus knew he was being questioned. There were rogues who operated outside his control, there were hives and cults over which he had no control and there was chaos and there were demons who would look up when he spoke.


He considered ordering one of the minions to fry the demon in front but all that would do was indicate its insolence and Tempus’ inability to deal with it so he gave his orders and the demon, eyes down accepted. Tempus chanted and waved his hand and the demon in front of him disappeared in a kaleidoscope of light.


Tempus lay back weakened slightly. He than gasped and disappeared in the withering blue light that marked a creature of time, knowing as he went that the demons all noted that he did not flame away as a true Source.


Tempus materialised on a cave in the freezing oceans of the north, in a place where demons did not like to go and in the dark he reached for a high shelf on the northern wall, feeling the expectation, the anticipation, the sense of destiny.


There was nothing there.


Tempus screamed in an unholy roar and he cursed and he vowed vengeance and he retched his anger and frustration. In temper, he dematerialised back to the Coronation chamber of the Source and roaring out his anger demanded of the minions bring him the demon Kreto.


The minions glanced at each other, each one faced with its imminent immolation. Finally the captain fell on one knee. 

“My liege“ it cowered, “The demon Kreto is no longer of the realm. He was one of the noble vanquished, victim of the Accursed trio of witches, lost in the Great Immolation when the noble Seer was vanquished. “


The minion captain fell to the floor howling in fear as Tempus roared his anger.


Three times he had sent a minion back to retrieve the Grimoire before the Charmed Ones could remove it from demondom and each time it had failed.


In anger he dismissed the minions, then alone he walked to his quarters. There Tempus waved his hand and from a hidden cavern a dark mirror appeared. He stared into the mirror and he knew that there was no hope for it. He had to find a way to change the fate of the Charmed Ones. He had to find a way to make them leave the Grimoire behind after the Great Immolation.


He could have tried to turn back time and try and change the path to stop the Great Immolation, but he knew as did good magic that it was not as easy to change fate as it was to go back in time. Fate happened as fate was supposed to happen. Destiny was fulfilled as Destiny was supposed to be. And the Charmed Ones destiny was to defeat the old Source and besides Tempus wanted it to happen, but for demondom to exist as it was supposed to exist, a realm of evil ruled by an unchallenged despot at the top of a hierarchy where minions fought and competed for favour it had to happen without the loss of the Grimoire. Without the Grimoire evil fractured and could no longer challenge the forces of good. For evil to continue as destiny decreed Tempus had to stop the Accursed Sisters taking the Grimoire.


As the Charmed Ones had a destiny to defeat the old Source, Tempus had a destiny. Many years ago by the time of the earth realm above, centuries ago, the Seer had told Tempus of her vision of his future, his destiny. The Seer had told Tempus that he was destined to be one of the most revered demons of the eons. It would be he who saved demondom from annihilation. It would be the demon Tempus who would restore the balance between good and evil. It would be he who ensured the continued existence of the Great Plan. 


Tempus believed in his destiny. He had achieved his eminence as leader of the demonic world on the strength of the Seer’s premonition. But having risen to power on the strength of that premonition he now had to ensure its fulfilment. He needed the Grimoire to do it and each time he failed to retrieve it, a weak leader already, he became that much more weakened.


He had tried to find out how the Accursed Trio had destroyed it and time after time had sent chameleon demons to the cursed home of the Accursed Witches but the Accursed Ones never felt the need to discuss the Grimoire. They talked about babies and love and an ex boyfriend lawyer who was causing problem’s for Belthezor’s witch. And Tempus learned nothing that could help him achieve his destiny. And the Accursed Witches always found the chameleons and destroyed them, because Belthezor in one of his many manifestations of betrayal had told them how to find and destroy chameleons.  And now the chameleons in further testimony to Tempus weakness as a ruler, had refused to risk any more of their number in that cursed place.


In the black mirror he watched the pages of the past, and watched again as he had on so many occasions, the Great Immolation as the Seer destroyed the upper levels of demondom. This time however instead of considering how a demon could steal the book before the Immolation, he watched what happened after and he watched the witches speak and he particularly watched the witches decide the fate of the Grimoire as the one orbed it into a sack. Tempus lips curled in sick disgust as the witch who had been Belthezor’s witch, the witch who had been the old Source’s queen said “Time to get rid of that book once and for all. “


And he watched and he watched and as he watched he came to believe he had an answer and the answer lay in Belthezor’s witch. What did he know of the role that Belthezor’s witch played in the power of the accursed Sisters? They thought her the weakest of them because unlike Evil, Good never recognised the power of vision. Belthezor’s witch was a seer and a sage and a speaker of truth, not always one to understand truth but a speaker of truth nevertheless. And Tempus saw, as much as he could see in the pages of time, that the Charmed Ones, the Accursed Sisters accepted her ability to blurt out the truth unquestioningly but never recognised it for the power it was. Tempus had never forgotten it was the vision of the witch who became Belthezor’s witch that had caused his first plan to kill the Charmed Ones to fail, that caused his defeat and fall from grace. He owed himself the pleasure of causing her pain.


Tempus, whose power was time, knew to well that nothing he could do would change her fate or her power but he could change perhaps the circumstances of her sister’s belief in her truth speaking. What was Cassandra’s fate, a visionary who was never to be believed? All he had to do was change their belief, their trust in her truth speaking.


Tempus great power was to go to back to the point where the time line split, and if the luck was with him, and the evil was great, and the moment frantic sometimes just sometimes he could magnify the evil and change the choice. If the luck was with him and the evil was great. And Belthezor’s witch had a calling to evil; she had walked with him to be anointed as the Old Source’s Evil Queen. With luck the evil that lurked within her would be just enough.


And at the point, when she said “Lets get rid of that book once and for all if they rejected her truth then all they could do was not what she said, not destroy the book and the fate of the demondom would be safe. “


Somewhere in the life of the witches there had to be a point where all faith, all belief in Belthezor’s witch was lost to her sisters.


Idly Tempus using his dark mirror began flicking through the pages of the Charmed Ones past, looking for something that would help him find the path to his destiny.


He with a smile of pure evil, began turning pages of the time of Belthezor and his witch. The pages of time he could see were not always clear, there were things evil could not touch and evil could not comprehend but the parts about evil were clear and complete. Tempus with a smile of unholy glee, pure evil watched the gradual destruction of his rival for power, Belthezor, at the hands of his witch.


Tempus was not, had never been an admirer of the demon Belthezor, demon of the century although he might have been. Tempus was never a supporter of the half breed human/demons and he had always considered Belthezor had been a good reason why demondom should destroy them.


They were bred to be smart, bred for evil, bred to use the dark recesses from their human heritage to dull what some believed to be the limitations of the demon nature. Demons, creatures of evil had in their nature the calling of their heritage. Demons had no sense of loyalty, no courage, no bravery, only a sense of self preservation and self advancement, There were those in demondom who felt breeding half demons with their human traits diverted to evil created the perfect servant, a loyal brave slave of evil.


Of course Tempus and a few others of the most highly ranked demons knew the power of which these half breed slaves were capable, the power they could accumulate through their humanity. When they became aware of this power, when their evil nature diverted it to their own purposes, and they started to understand the extent of the power of their humanity, then they became a danger to the order of demondom itself.


Most were destroyed by Good or demon enemies of their masters long before that happened but occasionally one slipped through and lasted long enough to become aware of their own power. Tempus was of the opinion that they should be destroyed by order very early but their demon masters resented loosing them because the nature of courage and loyalty was so alien to demons and therefore the ownership of it added status and power to the demon masters.


The demon/human half breeds may have had loyalty and courage but it was never possible to know what else came with their human heritage and it was unpredictable and it was deadly. There were always legends of demons/half breeds turning away from evil, great and romantic legends. Tempus at the top of the hierarchy knew it had happened. Never successfully, that he was aware but in his 500 years at the top of the hierarchy he had known over 50 to try, and while each one had been destroyed, the repercussions had been far reaching, the loss of the Grimoire after Belthezor’s aborted attempt being the most recent example.


“Belthezor“ Tempus spat out the name, an example to destroy these creatures.


Because in his 100 odd years as a servant of demondom, bred for loyalty and courage Belthezor’s greatest gift, greatest asset for his demon masters had been his ability to betray. Belthezor. The Great Betrayer. There had not been a demon master he had served who had not counted the unredeemed evilness of Belthezor’s ability to betray as an asset in their quest for power. And there had not been a demon master he had not in the end, betrayed, even Raynor the mentor who taught him all he knew.


Tempus felt these half breed creatures were to tempting, their ability to serve hiding the recklessness, the unpredictability of their nature, and their heritage. Demons were demons, they were evil and left no doubts to their desires. The half breeds were dangerous.


Tempus watched the pages of the past and a smile of evil pleasure crossed his face as he watched the fate of Belthezor the Great Betrayer, who betrayed demondom for a witch was twice betrayed by the witch. Once when she exchanged the potion to destroy the demon spirit of him, leaving him a weak and powerless human eunuch craving power and at the mercy of the Seer and again as she destroyed him as the anointed Source, using the spell he had helped her write. Tempus watched him writhe in agony. The Great Betrayer betrayed by his witch. Ironic.


A frown crossed his face and he moved through the mirror close to the time close to the present, searching for a trace of the great evil that had been Belthezor but no sign of him rose. Tempus was forced to concede that the great evil, the demon spirit of Belthezor which he could at one level admire was destroyed by the love of a good witch to become a cautionary tale to be preached at demons of all ages.