"THE HALF-BLOOD DEMON"
Cole reached for the bottle of Scotch and poured himself a glass. At that moment, he stiffened, sensing another figure inside his penthouse. He glanced over his shoulder. "Marbus?"
"Good evening, lad," a voice greeted in its familiar Irish lilt. The older daemon joined Cole next to the liquor cabinet. "Isn't it a bit late for a drink?"
A sigh left Cole's mouth. "Not for me, it isn't. Besides, I need it."
"Oh? Well, you might as well pour me a glass of what you're drinking, while you're at it." Marbus sat down on the sofa. "So, how is everyone dealing with the changes in the Whitelighter Realm? I heard about what happened."
Cole poured a second glass of Scotch. "Oh, everyone's great," he replied sardonically. "As you know, Natalia is now an Elder. I was accompanied by an arrogant little shit named Gideon, while I went to the Belogast dimension to get rid of the Erebor medallions."
"Bloody hell!" Marbus' face turned pale. "Those things actually existed?"
With a smirk, Cole handed his uncle the second glass of Scotch. "That's right. By the way, my former brother-in-law is now an Elder. And his wife, Piper, is having a fit."
"Really?" Marbus took a sip of his Scotch. "What is she upset about?"
Cole sighed and settled down in an empty chair. "Because Leo thinks he has to give up his ties here on Earth - namely Piper and Wyatt - in order to assume his new duties as an Elder. God, what an idiot!"
Familiar blue eyes bored into Cole's. "You have a problem with that?"
A grimace formed on his mouth, Cole shook his head. "I don't know. I know I shouldn't care, considering how Leo had plotted with that bitch, Mathilda Everard, and Paul Margolin to get Olivia to kill me, but I guess I can't help feeling sorry for Piper. As for Leo . . ." Cole snorted with derision, "that son-of-a-bitch gets a promotion." He took a swig of Scotch, before adding bitterly, "Life certainly isn't fair, is it?"
"Whoever said that it was?" Marbus shot back. "Besides, something tells me that one day, Mister Leo Wyatt will have to pay for his sins. Like we all do, one way or another."
Smiling mirthlessly, Cole said, "Olivia would call that karmic payback. Or the Wiccan Threefold Law."
"Ah! Dear Olivia! Have you seen her lately?"
Cole hesitated. "Earlier, today. She was with us when we stopped Johann Bauer from taking over the Whitelighter Realm. She and Darryl Morris were the ones who found out about the Erebor medallions."
Shrewd blue eyes peered at Cole. "You don't say." A silent pause followed. For the first time he could remember, the half-daemon found himself wishing that his uncle could be somewhere else. Marbus possessed an innate talent for ferreting out a secret. Sure enough . . .
"Is there something else you want to tell me, lad?" Marbus asked in that deceptively innocent air that he had inherited from Cole's maternal grandfather. "You seemed a bit . . . distracted."
Cole replied in a curt voice, "I'm fine."
"Are you now?" Marbus continued to stare at his nephew. "Do I need to remind you that you were never able to keep a secret from me? And unlike the late and unlamented Raynor, I'm not a telepath."
An exasperated sigh left Cole's mouth. "What do you want to know, Marbus?"
"What's on your mind, boy? Seriously."
"I . . ." Cole hesitated, wondering how his uncle would react to this latest news. No time like the present to find out. "I plan to get rid of my powers. Become mortal."
A horrified expression appeared on Marbus' face. "Bloody hell! Did you just say . . .?"
"Yeah, I did! I'm getting rid of my powers," Cole continued. "Phoebe and I had a long talk about it, and . . ."
The angry outburst from Marbus came out of the blue. "Are you out of your fucking mind? What the hell do you want to do that to yourself, anyway?"
"Excuse me?" Cole gave his uncle a chilly stare.
The older daemon retorted, "Don't you go putting on airs with me, boy! I'm not some bloody idiot, planning on stripping away my powers!"
"They are not my powers! Phoebe managed to convince me . . ."
"Of course they're your powers!" Marbus shot back.
"For God's sake, Marbus!" Cole cried. "Face the facts! These powers I have? They're not mine! They don't belong to me!"
Shooting his nephew with a contemptuous glare, Marbus growled, "What are you saying? That you stole them? From whom? They now belong to you, lad! Ever since you came back from the Wasteland."
Cole opened his mouth to speak. Unable to respond to Marbus' questions, he decided to dismiss them. "This conversation is over. I've made up my mind."
"You mean, you and Frances! Right?" Marbus shook his head in disbelief. "Bloody hell! I can't stay around and watch you make the biggest mistake of your life. Good day to you!" He dumped his glass on a nearby table and shimmered out of the room.
Cole took a deep breath. No matter what Marbus had said, he knew that he had made the right decision. Especially if it meant peace between him and Fra . . . He shook his head in confusion. Phoebe. Peace between him and Phoebe.
The following evening, a frown appeared on Phoebe's face. While the family sat inside the manor's Solarium, watching television, she was perusing the Book of Shadows. "Oh my God," she murmured, attracting Paige's attention. "You did it. You actually did it!"
The other two sisters, who were busy watching television, stared at the middle Charmed One. "Uh, Pheebs? Is there a problem?"
"You really got rid of that potion from the Book, didn't you?" Phoebe glared at her younger sister. "The one that allowed you to strip away Cole's powers!"
Paige rolled her eyes. "Of course, I did! What? You thought I was lying? I had it removed last January." Here we go, she added silently.
"Why Paige?" Phoebe's voice reverberated with outrage and disbelief.
Piper added, "Good question. Why did you do it, Paige?"
"Because I didn't think Cole would want a spell to remove his powers inside our Book of Shadows. I figured that after Barbas, he wouldn't want to get rid of them."
Anger flared in Phoebe's eyes. "Well, now he wants to get rid of them." Aside from the noise from the television, silence followed. Phoebe became more contrite. "Look, I'm sorry, Paige. It's just . . . Now that Cole wants to get rid of his powers, can you tell us the ingredients for the potion?"
"Nope." Paige returned her gaze to the television set.
Barely keeping her annoyance in check, Paige shot back, "For God's sake, Phoebe! I don't remember the damn spell! Okay?" Of course she was lying, but Paige refused to admit it.
"You forgot?" Phoebe's voice expressed disbelief. "Now, why do I find that hard to believe?"
Paige heaved a sigh. So much for the lie. "All right, Phoebe. You got me. I was lying. I do remember the ingredients for the potion and the spell. I just don't want to give it to you or Cole."
Just as Paige had expected, all hell broke loose. "My God, Paige! How selfish can you be?" Phoebe exploded. "Who are you to decide whether or not Cole can strip away his powers?"
Oh God. "You're right, Pheebs. I don't have the right to make such a decision." Paige noticed that her older sister's shoulders sagged with relief. "However, I do have the right to decide whether or not I will help him." Paige gave Phoebe an insincere smile. "And I've decided not to. So, you'll have to find a way to get rid of Cole's powers, yourself." She returned her attention to the television screen.
A cross between a grunt and a huff escaped from Phoebe's mouth. Then Paige heard her footsteps stomp out of the Solarium. The youngest Charmed One turned to Piper, who shook her head in disbelief . . . and sighed.
The last member of the Halliwell family - the oldest - switched off the television set. Then she turned off the Solarium's lights. While footsteps indicated the two Charmed Ones marching toward the staircase, a small tin waste basket morphed into a slender, dark-haired woman with rich brown skin and black eyes. She glanced around momentarily . . . and immediately teleported out of the room.
Prax strode into the drawing-room, where Artemus was busy hosting a small gathering of upper-level daemons. The Magan Corporation's CEO excused himself from his guests and joined his assistant. "Yes Prax, what is it?" the senior daemon demanded.
"That chameleon daemon is here. She's in the library. And she has some important information."
A sigh left Artemus' mouth, as he glanced at his visitors. He had hoped to recruit their support of his bid to become the new Source. "All right. Why don't you ask our visitors if they would like a drink? I'll be back." Once more, he excused himself to his visitors and left.
The chameleon daemon was a female named Zamora, who had faithfully served the Khorne Order for the last forty-one years. Artemus joined her inside the library. "So, Zamora. What news do you have for me?"
"There's a problem," Zamora curtly replied. "One of the Charmed Ones has refused to help Belthazor strip away his powers."
Artemus frowned. "Surely the other two sisters can do the job? Or Belthazor, himself? Besides, from what I had heard about what happened with Barbas last year, the Power of Three isn't needed to remove Belthazor's powers."
Zamora nodded. "That's true, but a simple potion or spell won't do," she continued. "The witch who had stripped Belthazor's powers last year, now refuses to help. The one called Paige."
Artemus pressed his lips together. "Paige Matthews. The half-whitelighter. Damn whitelighters are proving to be a nuisance." He sighed. "How do we get her to cooperate?"
Zamora hesitated. "Why not use a telepath to convince the witch to reveal her potion to us? Then we can use it against Belthazor."
"Hmm, quite a clever plan. Except . . ." Artemus paused. Another idea came to him. "Except, I have another idea. One that does not require for us to search for a telepath."
A frown creased Zamora's forehead. "Sir?"
Artemus shot a quick smile at the daemon. "Zamora, have you ever used a spell that utilizes the power of telepathic suggestion? All that is required of you is to first form a telepathic link with your victim. The rest, as they say, is up to you."
Shooting another curious glance at Artemus, Zamora murmured a reluctant "What exactly is this spell?"
END OF PART 2