A Matter of Relativity
Part 3: The impossible takes a little longer
"They do not love that do
not show their love"
Part 3 of 4 Parts
Lara Haslett looked at the man sitting opposite her and could not keep the scorn from her face. She could feel in his brain the weakness and the shallowness of the man. Lara was very proud of her power to telepathically connect and enable the person with whom she connected to focus and arrange their thoughts and their ideas.
Her mother had told her she had a great power, a power of mind, to influence, to induce clarity of thought and there were times when she used that gift on other beings, she felt the power serge through her. The power that her mother told her, was one of the greatest gifts that could be given to a witch. Lara always winced a little when she thought of her mother, her mother who had been lost in the battle to destroy evil.
She had vowed the time would come when evil and its minions would offer retribution for the death of her mother. And it was fast approaching.
Business like, efficient, she asked, "The occult is a subject that always interests our readers. Tell me Mr Walford, do you believe that the power of demonic artefacts is real or just mind games played on the gullible."
"Of course the power is not real " Roger said as he leaned back in his chair to pontificate "but I personally have considerable experience of the impact of the belief on weak minded people."
"Do you believe these things to be evil?" Lara asked matter of fact.
"Oh there is great legend attached to these things and the legends certainly add to the value but harbingers of evil." He laughed "Hardly. I do think" he said "that some of these ancient amalgamations of crystal and metals and ore can create certain metabolic effects which may be advantageous if used by strong minded individuals but that is nothing more than natural order." he smiled.
"You really believe these ancient artefacts can be harnessed by the strong minded" Lara asked using her power to induce Roger to focus his thoughts on that power and its uses.
"The ancients certainly knew a few things that we would be surprised about" Roger said with a superior nod "Do you now they have found evidence of primitive batteries being developed in Egypt? But I would hardly call them evil. Mysterious perhaps" he smiled knowingly.
As Roger focused on the belief of his strength of mind, Lara quickly said her spell.
"What" said Roger.
Lara pretended she did not understand "As an expert on demonic artefacts." she said as Roger acknowledged the truth of that statement with smile "would you be concerned about anything that has passed through your hands."
"No" said Roger "I believe I can honestly say that as someone who is neither gullible nor weak-minded I am in no danger from the items I deal with and collect. So I think I could safely call their powers without undue risk." He stood up "Would you like to see one of these demon artefacts?" he asked.
"Yes I would" said Lara almost with enthusiasm.
Roger went to the locked cabinet behind him. He pulled took out a large metal case and opened it. Inside was a short sword with a thick dark blade. The handle was a combination of silver and gold and a strange dark metal that Lara did not recognise. It was inlaid with several dark jewels and the sheath had an unusual engraving of demonic symbols. "This is known as the Apollyon blade" he said "Satan's blade, one of several swords, that are reputed to capture souls if a person is stabbed with it. Another one is called the Dragon blade and there is a legend of Gorgon blade as well."
"It kills" Lara asked looking at it.
"No" said Roger "According to myth, if a mortal allows themselves to be stabbed with this in hell, their soul becomes the property of the demon who owns the sword and their body another of its minions. According to legend" he said, and deliberately touched the edge until his finger bleed."
To Roger's disappointment, Lara remained unmoved. "But then I never thought of this museum as hell "he said shutting the lid, laughing at his own joke and then sucking the end of his finger.
"I am glad " said Lara with a ghost of a smile. "How did you acquire it?"she asked.
"A generous donor" said Roger serenely. "It came , from..from.." and struggled to remember. His memory which he regarded as one of his most powerful talents failed him, leaving him feeling almost .. a little impotent. It was made worse by Lara's somewhat supercilious and sneering smile.
Lara thanked him for the interview, taking one more chance to enter his head and focus his thoughts. He showed her to his office door and she thanked him again but Roger had already lost interest. He walked to the beautiful blond woman waiting in his outer office, smiling at him from behind her peekaboo hair.
"Elisabeth " he said " Such a surprise" as he reached to take her hands.
Lara left feeling well satisfied with herself. And in her life, with her devotion to her duty and her responsibilities that satisfaction was one of the few things she allowed herself to enjoy.
She went home and found he father sitting in their living room staring into space.
"How did it go?" he asked her quietly.
"Well " she answered, "a weak minded individual, he will succumb to temptation. I think we will be able to tempt the demon Elisheeva out, using him."
"Are you sure?" Benedict asked.
Lara looked at him icily "Reconsidering your duty?" she asked coldly.
"No" Benedict replied, "I recognise my responsibility to your mother. I failed her as husband, as a lover but I won't fail her memory."
"That is good," said Lara.
"Lara" Benedict said "are you certain you're strong enough to defeat this demon. Even the Charmed Ones need a Power of Three. And you know what the whitelighters say about chasing down demons, what they call vigilante practices."
"This demon seduced a Charmed One to evil," Lara said " if the rumours I heard are true. And what could be a more appropriate fate than to infect and weaken the magic of the demon through the weak-minded mortals whose souls it steals to evil. I knew that museum director was a perfect choice since I saw him talking on television. I planted the magic in his brain, father. I made him impotent. All we have to do is find two more weak minded willing mortals to be seduced to evil and the demon will falter."
"Be careful Lara," said Benedict. " Don't follow your mother's fate".
"I cannot " said Lara ":I have no husband to betray me."
Phoebe sat on the edge of the bed in Elisheeva's hideaway. She had tested all its limits and whatever magic the demon not mother in law was using it was doing an excellent job of containing her. Since she had been there several demons, apparently minions had no difficulty getting in and out but the weight of what she was wearing round her neck made her feel physically sick, faint if she even went near that walls. Phoebe was bored and frightened. She thought sadly that since the day she had confirmed Whosit's existence she had been in heaven and hell and home and in each place she had been frightened and bored. In fact the only time she hadn't been bored and frightened was when she had been safely curled up with Cole.
"Damn Daddy "she told Whosit "he keeps saying he doesn't do well without me. And look where he's left me. Shit " she screamed because she was frightened "Shit, shit, shit, shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit." And she did not feel any better.
"Look what he's done to me" she said to Whosit harshly, then she put her hand across her belly "Look what he's done to me," she said softly "Look what he's given me. Daddy better come soon" she told Whosit ."I know he'll come but it better be soon because Mommy isn't doing so good."
Elisheeva's desire for her grandchild had not interfered with her dealings with evil and plotting to increase her way up the hierarchy. At various times Elisabeth, smiling behind the peek a boo hairstyle shimmered back to the hideaway, to curse her competitors or boast of her cleverness in outwitting them and once to share the blood lust when she killed her rival, the Brotherhood supported demon Munda.
"Of course" Elisheeva told Phoebe suddenly turning spiteful "If you hadn't stolen my golden athame, the bastard fiend would be rotting in the fire of the depths instead of being comfortably vanquished, and off to the waste land and possible reincarnation." She breathed into Phoebe's face, the demonic eyes and red and black markings seeming to take on an anger of their own "we suffer for our sins Chickadee" she hissed.
Phoebe shut her eyes and winced and when she opened them there were the amused blue eyes of Elisabeth laughing at her.
"Poor little Chickadee" said Elisabeth with the smile that reminded Phoebe of Cole "Not entirely sure you want to be evil yet."
On several occasions Elisabeth summoned vanquish fodder and dispatched them with barely a flicker. Phoebe swallowed, knowing just how vulnerable she was.
Elisabeth also seemed quite happy to tell Phoebe what she was up too, which made Phoebe very certain that the demon had plans for her that did not include letting her go.
Phoebe glanced upward as Elisabeth shimmered in. She was wielding a short sword inlaid with several dark jewels and the sheath had an unusual engraving of demonic symbols. She held it up almost touching Phoebe. "Beautiful isn't it Chickadee" said Elisabeth.
"Yes" said Phoebe " what is it?"
"The Apollyon Blade" said Elisabeth with a sly smile.
Phoebe went to stand up.
"'Be careful. Keep away" Elisabeth said hastily pulling the sword away from her.
"What's wrong?" asked Phoebe.
"Are you evil?" said Elisabeth.
"You know I am Mamma" Phoebe answered little girl.
"If I had that damned Golden athame I could find out " snarled Elisabeth.
"Yeah but by the time you found I was evil I'd be rotting in hell" said Phoebe.
"True Chickadee, true" said Elisabeth relenting "want to see this work."
"What does it do?" asked Phoebe genuinely interested.
"Lets me take the soul of any being that comes to the Underworld and willingly stab themselves with it." Elisabeth smirked.
"Why in the hell would they do that?" said Phoebe.
"I suppose because they think it will get them what they want." Elisabeth answered.
"Haven't you got enough soul catcher's "Phoebe asked a little exasperated.
"Ah but this one let's me take their souls and use their essence and evil to make me stronger" Elisabeth "I get the power of the blade, I get their souls to trade, their essence to add to mine and their bodies to serve me. Win/win …for me. Want to watch it work."
She waived her hand and to Phoebe's surprise, Prue's ex fiancé Roger Walford landed on his knees in front of Elisabeth. He looked up surprised and somewhat concerned, glanced around and then into Elisabeth's face.
"What do you want Roger?" Elisabeth asked as he tried to stand up "Stay "she told him as if he was a dog.
"You know what I want "he said staying where he was.
"Roger helps me acquire… things" Elisabeth explained to Phoebe. To Phoebe's amazement, she let the demon robe slip until one white breast was nearly completely exposed. Roger was all but panting.
"Friend Roger has decided he wants to um join forces" said Elisabeth in her soft breathy Boston accent. Roger actually started to pant. "Roger understands I'm not good. Don't you Roger" she said while Roger's face contorted with the pain, with the agony of desire. "You want me Roger dear " said Elisabeth said holding the blade in front "Come and get me" and to Phoebe's horror Roger almost in a trance half stood and threw himself on the blade. He barely seemed to notice the blade as Elisabeth pulled it free. "They throw themselves on it because I offer them what they want." she told Phoebe.
Phoebe in shock, stared at Roger as his good looking weak face took on the sudden blankness of a totally soulless being.
"Get out of here" snapped Elisabeth and waved her hand so Roger disappeared. "Sent him back to where he can do some ..good for me " said Elisabeth.
She hesitated a second almost sniffing as she searched her core for evil. "I would have thought, " she said almost to herself ignoring Phoebe "there would have been more." She shrugged and then laughed the breathy sexy laugh. "You know Chickadee I've fucked mortals for pleasure and I've fucked them for business and he was about the worst fuck of them all. Damn near impotent. I shouldn't be surprised even his evil is too." But she shook her head concerned.
Elisabeth suddenly laughed with a self-derisive laugh "I was always to romantic" she said reaching over to chuck Phoebe's chin "But you know that's a family failing don't you Chickadee. Be a good girl " she added and then shimmered.
Phoebe sat back on the bed "You have no idea precious " she told Whosit "How right at this moment I am praying for the importance of environment over heredity."
It took Piper and Paige two days of hard work, sometimes long arguments and many hours searching through the Book of Shadows to come up with the right combination of spells and potions to selectively strip and exchange powers as was needed. None of which was helped by Cole's totally unconcealed anxiety, or the tension between Cole and Paige over Phoebe. They probably would never have been able to make the potion if Marly had not walked in when batch number 97 puffed up in satisfactory red and orange cloud then fizzled like a firecracker with a wet wick.
"Shit" muttered Piper "Fucking bloody .. why can't you just wave a wand.. fucking" and then Paige coughed and she looked up and saw Marly holding Melinda's hand.
"You shouldn't say those words in front of Melinda, they learn," whispered Marly.
Piper swallowed "I know " she said suddenly feeling like a bad mother. "I'm worried about my sister and I .." she trailed off as Marly's disapproval showed in a sad shocked expression. " Damned potion won't work" Piper muttered.
"What are you trying to do?" Marly asked.
Paige looked at Piper and shook her head.
"Oh" said Marly understanding to well she was not a powerful enough witch to be considered useful in real magic. "I'm so sorry, I shouldn't have asked but its my only skill, witch thing" she said " herbal lore. I have no other. I thought " she whispered " maybe I could help. But I'm not very.. " and she tailed off.
Pipier glanced back at Paige "We need to selectively remove some demonic powers" she said " to get Phoebe out of where she is."
"Why don't you just blow up the demon?" Marly asked barely able to say the words.
"We need it to keep some powers" Piper said.
"Oh" said Marly. She looked at the list of ingredients and in a soft uncertain voice said. "You need to double the horehound and halve the basel and use a little heather instead and a big pinch of dragon's blood, more than pinch really. Lots."
"Are you sure?" Paige said in awe because she had never heard Marly say so many words.
"Yes" said Marly in a voice that didn't sound certain "herbal lore is the only thing I really know about magic."
To the surprise of both Piper and Paige batch 98 worked perfectly,
"I knew it would," said Marly in an uncertain voice.
Piper having made up her mind that they were going to go through with the power exchange grimly went about her tasks, which was a sure sign how concerned she was. She was worried about Leo, worried that the longer Phoebe stayed where she was the more she would be irretrievably caught up in evil. And she seriously doubted Cole had the slightest intention of keeping his promise to Paige to rid any evil from Phoebe and dreaded where that would lead.
Caleb appeared twice to offer them good advice from the Elders about retrieving Phoebe from evil or at least making sure she was rendered impotent to assist it.
Francesca also appeared to ask Cole what he was doing.
"I haven't done anything," he snapped.
"I know" she said " that's why I know you're up to something."
He smiled a little wistfully.
"Cole just promise me something," she said.
"I don't think I'm willing to do that," he answered with a self-depreciatory grin.
"Whatever, just think with your head not your heart" she said "Arturo is watching you and will protect the Great Plan."
"I do understand what he must do" Cole said quietly and when he looked like that Francesca knew she was not talking to the guardian's apprentice "I even understand that he has to be the one who acts on the need of the Great Plan, even when that means doing something very…not pleasant, fortunately and I feel this on the winds, that is his problem not mine. Mine is to get Phoebe back."
Francesca nodded then shook her head "Do what you can " she said.
Leo was probably the calmest one of them all, and except for becoming quite irritated when Cole or Piper asked him if he really understood what being locked in the Underworld with a bunch of demonic powers he couldn't control would be like.
"One way of walking in some one else's shoes" Leo shrugged.
"You have no idea what it is like" Cole told him.
"Probably just as well" Leo said. "How did you survive it Cole?"
"Hope I would find Phoebe again" Cole said " and when that ran out I just went crazy."
"I don't have to hang on hope" Leo replied, "I know for certain."
Cole and Piper glared at him.
"Phoebe better appreciate what you're doing for her," Piper snapped.
They finally got all the magic together and the first effort was to convince the little witch Marly she could guard Leo's orbing power.
At first she was a little reluctant to help until Leo with an intensity that Marly did understand explained that he could not save Phoebe from evil if the demon was able to recognise a good power.
Marly gave him a gulping awkward smile and muttered how happy she was to help, sighed and shuddered with anticipation, drank the potion, almost taking an orgasmic pleasure as Paige and Piper said the transfer spell and a cloud of light it entered her body.
"If you're an angel, how the hell did you become such a good liar" Cole muttered at Leo as they left. Leo merely smiled.
Cole refused to let Piper have the shimmering power until after they returned from the wasteland.
"I don't want you knowing how to use it to get to the wasteland" he said to Piper. "You're not beyond temptation" he told her.
Leo and Piper and Cole slipped out of the house so Marly would not see them leave. Cole fought the long hard battle back to the wasteland and he was not entirely surprised to find the memories of the loneliness, fear and madness surface with a frightening reality.
Leo and Piper looked around at the desolation and the fire and the eerie red skyline of evil.
"Oh my god" Piper whispered and then swallowed a little shriek as a demon spun through the firmament to be taken by a Beast.
"It was a fire of my own making Piper" Cole said softly picking up the emotion that was coming from her.
"Not so bad" said Leo but his face was pale. "How many beasts did you kill" he asked Cole with a false calmness.
"They breed" Cole answered grimly.
Piper glanced around "No" she said looking at the desolation "Leo it's not good."
"Give me the potion" Leo said not quiet covering the quaver in his voice "and say the spell."
Piper started to shake her head.
"Give me the potion and say the spell," Cole said.
"Phoebe better appreciate this": Piper answered grimly and said the spell as Cole and Leo took the potion. Cole's powers passed to Leo in a dark swirling cloud and Leo hit the ground, his face contorting and he huddled for a second, then he looked up his eyes flashing dark fire " Not really good" he said in a slow deep voice.
"Can you shimmer?" Piper asked Cole nervously.
"Got what I need" he said tightly and as a demon shrieked through the firmament and he felt his almost empty core pull toward the power. "Not a good place for me to be" he said, holding his hand out to Piper. She ran to Leo and gave him a quick hug.
"We won't be long" she promised.
"Good" Leo told her eyes narrowed and dark in the red light and stood up.
Cole looked at him "Be well" he said in the demon salute and left as Leo took half a step towards him. The last thing Cole and Piper heard was the long moan.
"He'll be okay, " Cole said to her.
"He better be" Piper said. "Phoebe better appreciate this."
They slipped back into the Manor to find Paige standing in the middle of the conservatory her hands on her hips and a disgusted expression on her face.
"What's wrong?" Piper asked.
"Marly" said Paige irritated "she seems to think orbing is right an adrenalin rush."
Marly appeared almost on top of Cole who jumped back before he fell back.
"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh" breathed Marly "I never dreamed. I never had. Power real. its ,its I never. Oh this is to be a really magic , the power the… its unbelievable " she said and disappeared again.
"Shit " breathed Cole and Piper.
Cole and Piper slipped away from Marly and she said the spell to take the shimmering. Cole flatly refused to let Piper near any power stealing warlock with his power.After a quick scry that located three warlocks up to mischief that could get them vanquished, Paige orbed Cole to intercept one, and came across a witch in Toronto in the act of finishing a warlock off. It took only a second for Cole to put himself in the way of the departing warlock blinking power and accidentally pick up a mutated power to see though certain non metallic substances that the warlock must have once stolen from a witch and mutated to evil. He didn't tell Paige about that one.
He tested the blinking which felt slow and unsatisfying to the empty core of his soul that craved completion with magic. "I'm off " he told Paige coming out of the blink.
"You just remember what you promised Cole," Paige said suspiciously.
He swallowed " I won't let evil win this one" he said.
"That's not what you promised" Paige started to say but he had gone before she finished the sentence. Leaving her stamping her foot, lips pursed together and concerned.