Monday, June 24, 2013
"Bride of Belthazor" [PG-13] - 11/16
"BRIDE OF BELTHAZOR"
Cecile glanced at her watch. It read thirty-five minutes after midnight. She yawned.
"Tired already?" Paige asked. The two women, along with Natalie Gleason and Nimue, sat at one of the tables near the stage.
The Vodoun priestess glanced around the club. "A little. It's already past midnight. And I need some sleep." She glanced at the remaining guests. Some either looked tired . . . or slightly drunk. "Some of the others barely seem to be in any condition to drive."
Nimue asked, "Where is the bride?"
"In the restroom," Nathalie answered. "With her mom." She turned to the demoness. "Say, is it true that you had known Olivia's great-great grandparents?"
A sigh left Nimue's mouth. "Yes. When I was married to Cole's father." She paused. "And for a few years after Benjamin's death. Cole is the godson of William McNeill."
"Why didn't you say anything before?" Paige demanded. Cecile detected a slight hostile tone in the Charmed One's voice. Judging from her expression so did Nimue.
Coolly, the demoness replied, "Well, I had other matters on my mind - Cole and Olivia's wedding plans, dealing matters concerning the Realm . . . the loss of my son's powers." She shot a meaningful glance at Paige, following her last words. "Surely, you understand."
"I . . ." Paige's face began to turn pink.
Cecile decided to come to the younger woman's rescue. "You know, I personally can't wait to hear about the Turners and the McNeills, back then," she said to the demoness.
A shrug lifted Nimue's shoulders. "Yes, well I only knew the McNeills for only nine years."
"Nine years seem enough. Don't you think?"
At that moment, Phoebe approached the table. "Looks like we're closing down for the night, guys. Everyone is starting to leave." She shot an uneasy glance at Nimue.
"What about the clean-up?" Paige asked. She frowned at her older sister. "Piper doesn't expect us to do it tonight, does she?"
The oldest Charmed One appeared behind Paige's chair. "Of course I do. We had to do it after Barbara's party and we have to do it, tonight."
Paige groaned, as she stood up. "Great! I'll barely have time for sleep, tomorrow," she muttered.
"Why don't you simply use magic to clean up this mess?" Nathalie suggested.
Longing gleamed in Paige's eyes, followed by disappointment when Piper replied, "I don't think so. Personal . . ."
To everyone's surprise, Nimue waved a hand. Within seconds, P3 looked clean as a whistle. The demoness nodded approvingly. So did Nathalie. The Halliwells, on the other hand, took a different view of Nimue's handiwork. "What the hell did you do to my club?" Piper cried out in outrage. Both Paige and Phoebe merely gasped out loud.
"Cleaned it up, of course," Nimue dryly replied. "Is there a problem?"
Piper continued in a shrill voice, "Well yeah! We can't use magic for personal gain!"
Olivia rushed forward, with a few packages in her arms. "Hey, who cleaned the place?" Her two grandmothers and her mother followed closely at her heels.
"I did," Nimue replied.
The younger Mrs. McNeill nodded approvingly. "Good thinking."
"Uh, wait a minute!" Piper exclaimed. "I can't use magic to . . ."
"Darling, why the fuss?" Gweneth asked, interrupting the younger woman. "It's past midnight. By the time you and your sisters finish cleaning this place, you will barely have enough time for sleep. And please remember that you will be busy, tomorrow."
The outrage in Piper's dark eyes slowly dimmed. "Oh. Yeah." She shot an ambiguously grateful look at the demoness. "Thanks," she muttered.
"My pleasure," Nimue replied with a sardonic smile that reminded Cecile of Cole.
Nathalie yawned. "Goddess, I'm tired!"
"Anyone need a lift?" Barbara asked, as she descended the club's staircase. "I have my car ready. And Margaret is already inside."
Both of Olivia's grandmothers and Cecile's own mother headed toward the staircase. As Cecile prepared to do the same, she bumped into Nathalie. As she grasped the other woman's shoulder, she found herself bombarded by disturbing visions - Cole greeting a blond man at the penthouse, the same man flashing a strange stone at the half-daemon, Cole passing out, and Andre fighting both the blond man and a familiar dark-haired woman. The visions ended with an unconscious or dead Andre sprawled on the penthouse floor with another unidentified body. Cecile gasped out loud. "Oh God! Andre!" She jerked away from Nathalie's grasp.
Everyone stared at her. "What's wrong?" Cecile's mother demanded anxiously.
"It's Andre," Cecile murmured. "He's . . . I don't know if he's dead or unconscious. And Cole's in trouble. By some strange guy . . . and that daemon called Idril."
Olivia's expression hardened. So did Nimue's. "Where?" the latter asked in a harsh voice.
"In Cole's penthouse." Cecile turned to Nathalie. "What I don't understand is why . . ." She broke off, as she noticed the dark-haired witch's shaken expression. "What's wrong?"
Clutching her forehead, Nathalie replied, "I . . . uh . . . I think you must have telepathically sent your visions to me." She inhaled sharply. "Goddess! How on earth do you deal with being a seer?"
"Why did Cecile get her visions, when she touched you?" Piper asked Nathalie.
Nathalie closed her eyes and sighed. "Because I've seen her before. The woman in Cecile's vision. I last saw her at the Anduin Marketplace, a few days ago. When I had bought Olivia's present." She nodded at Cecile and Olivia. "We better go, if you want to help both Cole and Andre."
Both Cecile and Olivia took hold of the dark-haired witch's hands. The last thing Cecile saw were the Charmed Ones' shocked expressions, as Nathalie blinked her and Olivia out of the nightclub.
Nearly twenty minutes earlier, Cole opened the refrigerator, inside his penthouse kitchen, and reached for a tub of butter. "Hey Andre," he cried to his friend "do you want anything to eat? I'm about to make an omelet."
Seconds passed before Andre appeared in the kitchen. "C'mon man! You've got to be kidding! It's almost half past midnight."
Andre sighed. "You're just nervous. And you can't sleep. It's only natural, since in about twelve to fourteen hours, you're about to become a married man again. Why don't you just get in a little meditation, so that you can relax? And go to sleep?" He paused. "It's either that or fall asleep on your wedding night. And I don't think Olivia would like that."
"I'm not nervous," Cole protested, lying. "And as a half-daemon, I can go without sleep a lot longer than any mortal."
Rolling his eyes, Andre muttered, "Uh-huh. If you say so. However, as your best man, I know I'm going to need a lot of sleep. So, I'm going to bed." He turned away and left the kitchen.
Cole shrugged his shoulders and resumed preparing his omelet. He removed more items from the refrigerator - a few eggs, butter, onions, along with red and green peppers. Before he could retrieve a pan from one of the cabinets, the doorbell rang. The half-demon glanced at the kitchen clock. It read twelve twenty-one. Who in the hell would be visiting at this time of the morning?
The half-daemon reached the front door and paused. It occurred to him that Idril might be making her move. Apparently, so did Andre, who peered from one of the guest bedrooms. "Need any help, man?"
"I don't know," Cole replied uneasily. He peered through the door's peephole. To his surprise, he found Gary Whalen standing in the hallway. And looking very nervous. Cole rolled his eyes and sighed. "You might as well go back to bed," he said. "It's, uh . . . it's only a client."
Andre frowned. "At nearly twelve-thirty in the morning?"
Cole shook his head in disgust. "It's Gary Whalen. You remember him, don't you? I'm beginning to think this guy has a few bolts loose. He's obsessed over creating a new will and apparently thinks I'm the only one who can help him. He's been getting on Eleanor's nerves for the past few days. I'll take care of him."
While Andre disappeared back into the guest bedroom, Cole opened the door. He smiled coolly at the blond man. "Mr. Whalen, may I ask what you're doing here?"
"I . . ." The blond man cleared his throat, nervously. "Look, I'm sorry to bother you, Mr. Turner, but I've been trying to reach you for the past two days. I . . . May I come in?"
Cole sighed. "Might as well. I can't sleep, anyway." He stepped aside and allowed the other man to step inside. "Mr. Whalen, my assistant has already recommended two of my colleagues . . ."
"I'm sorry Mr. Turner, but . . ." Whalen shook his head. "I can't work with Miss Altman. She's . . . well, I find her rather abrasive. And as for Mr. Weinstock, he won't be available until after Christmas."
"And you can't wait until after Christmas?" Cole demanded. He indicated an empty chair to his visitor.
Whalen sat down. And heaved a large sigh. "You must understand, Mr. Turner, I'm . . . well, I have serious health problems."
The statement took Cole by surprise. The blond man struck him as being very healthy. "I'm sorry to hear that. Um . . . what exactly . . .?"
"It's . . . rather personal," Whalen flatly replied. "If you don't mind."
Cole nearly found himself speechless. "Oh . . . uh, of course." He remembered the food he had left on the kitchen counter. "By the way, Mr. Whalen, would you like something to drink? Coffee, water or something stronger?"
"Club soda would be fine," Whalen replied.
As he headed toward the liquor cabinet, Cole added, "After we finish the will tonight, I'll hand it over to my assistant Eleanor, tomorrow. She'll be at the wedding. I'll ask her to type it up and file it." He poured a glass of club soda for his guest. "She should have it ready by . . ." Cole turned around. A turquoise gem gleamed in his eyes, causing his mind to go blank.
Brion Morgan slipped inside his sister's sitting room. With the McNeill family attending the pre-wedding celebrations, it had been easy for him to search the house for Gweneth's Book of Shadows. So far, his efforts have proved to be fruitless. He glanced at his watch. Everyone should be returning to the house, soon. Which meant that Gwen's sitting room might prove to be his last chance. At least for tonight.
Over thirty years ago, Brion's sister had used a spell to teleport herself, her friend Carla Bianchi and himself to an old Italian villa, where a wizard had a fellow witch as prisoner. As he recall, Gweneth had recorded the same spell into her Book of Shadows. And Brion hoped to use it to teleport himself to Idril's present whereabouts and vanquish her.
After a brief search, Brion finally stumbled across the altar that held his sister's Book of Shadows. He found the spell he had been looking for and copied it on a small notebook. Then he returned the BOS to the altar and left the room. The Welshman then left the house and marched down the driveway. Assured that no one could see him, he took a deep breath and began to memorize the spell.
"With this stone will soon be linked,
Your mind to mine shall finally sync.
Follow my voice and so it will be,
Arnemetia's power be invoked here."
Gary hesitated as he peered at the half-daemon. Assured that the latter was safely in a trance, he continued:
"Idril is your only true love. No one else will matter.
Not your mother, not Phoebe and certainly not Olivia.
The moment you and Idril are together, you will be Joined in marriage. So mote it be."
Gary snapped his fingers. Belthazor slumped to the floor. He stepped over the half-demon's body and opened the door. Idril strode inside. "He's all yours," the warlock announced.
Idril rushed over and knelt beside the half-daemon. "What's wrong with him?" she demanded. "What happened?"
"It's nothing." Gary shrugged his shoulders. "Just a little side effect from the stone, once the spell is completed. The moment he wakes up, he'll remember everything that I've . . ."
A third voice muttered, "What the fuck?"
Gary stared at the sight of a tall figure entering the living room. "Oh shit!"
Idril frowned at him. "What?" Her eyes followed the warlock's gaze, causing her to gasp. "Oh no! Andre Morrell!"
A few minutes earlier, Andre heard the thump, just as he was about to climb into bed. He paused. How on earth could preparing an omelet cause so much noise? And it sure as hell did not sound like a pan dropping.
Slowly, Andre turned away from the bed and headed toward the door. As he approached the living room, a horrifying sight greeted his eyes. He saw Cole's unconscious body sprawled on the floor. Beside him was an old acquaintance - his friend's former daemonic lover. And another familiar person hovered above the pair. Cole's newest client, Gary Whalen. "What the fuck?" Andre muttered aloud.
Whalen cried out, "Oh shit!"
Then Idril's head snapped up. Her eyes widened in shock. "Oh no! Andre Morrell!" She sprang to her feet, as her eyes turned red. Before she could attack, Andre forced both her and Whalen away from Cole's body, using aero kinesis. Both cried in pain, as their bodies struck the nearest wall.
Andre rushed forward and knelt beside his friend's body. "Cole! Damn! Are you all . . .?" Before he could finish, Andre found himself flying across the room. Pain tingled nearly every nerve in his body, as he tumbled over a table. The houngan glanced up and saw Whalen's outstretched hand. A telekinetic. Damn!
Looking very determined, Idril rose to her feet. She marched toward the sprawled Andre, her eyes glowing red. "You interfering son-of-a-bitch!" she cried. "You're not going to stand in my . . ." Andre hurled a fireball at her. It brushed the demoness' shoulder, as she ducked.
Panic struck Andre, when streams of red heat emitted from Idril's eyes. The houngan held out both hands and cried, "Deflect!" in the Fon. Idril's beam bounced back and struck the wall near her.
Without missing a beat, Andre used his aero kinesis to hurl Idril back to Whalen. Then he scrambled to his feet and pointed a finger at the pair, chanting:
"Herviosso, I now call upon,
Protect me now, oh great one.
Keep me safe and harm to none,
With a shield to surround those beyond."
Both Idril and Whalen rushed forward to attack the houngan . . . and bounced against a magical shield that Andre had conjured. He sighed with relief. The spell worked. Then he returned his attention back to Cole. The houngan spied a necklace on the floor. Just as he started to pick it up, a figure burst into the penthouse - Brion Morgan.
Andre frowned. "What the . . .?" Then the Welsh-born witch produced a small vial and hurled it at Andre's two captors. "No!" the Voudoun priest cried.
The vial struck the shield, creating a large burst of light. Once more, Andre found himself being hurled across the room. He struggled to his feet and spotted Morgan's unconscious body sprawled near the door. To his horror, he also realized that the witch's potion had eradicated his magical shield. Idril shot an energy ball at him. Andre destroyed it with a fireball. Then he tossed her against the fireplace. Andre marched over to where the demoness laid sprawled. A fireball materialized above his open palm. Then . . .
A sharp pain stabbed Andre's side. Wide-eyed and surprised, he glanced down and saw a knife protruding from his side. "Goddamn!" he cried. "I've been . . ." A hand removed the knife and shoved it back into his body - this time, between his right ribs. Dizziness overwhelmed the houngan. He grabbed his side for the moment and noticed the sticky red blood on his hands. Andre swayed on his feet for a few seconds, before his knees buckled under him. Then everything faded to black.
Idril sighed with relief, as the Vodoun priest fell to the floor. "In Barmiel's name! I never thought I would be indebted to a warlock." She struggled to her feet. "Good job."
Wheeler removed the knife from Morrell's body. "Happy to oblige. I'm just glad that we won't have to deal with him, again. Thanks to that man, over there." He strode over to the older man's prone body and kicked it. "Must be a witch. What do we do with him?"
"Leave him," Idril sharply ordered. "I'm more interested in Belthazor." She knelt beside the half-daemon and tenderly stroked his forehead. "How long will he be out cold?"
With a shrug, Wheeler replied, "An hour. Maybe two. It depends upon him."
"Okay, let's go. Get Belthazor."
A frown appeared on Wheeler's face. "Are you kidding?" he protested. "That guy must weigh a least a good 180 pounds!"
Idril sighed. Long and hard. Apparently, not even the likes of Gary Wheeler is not immune from the idiocy of minions. "Use your telekinesis and send him out into the damn hall!"
"Why not teleport him?"
"Because I can't!" Idril shot back. "No one can! Belthazor apparently has a protection ward over this place. So, will you please?"
Looking slightly disgruntled, the warlock levitated the half-daemon's body and led it out of the penthouse. Idril followed. Once they were in the hallway, the demoness grabbed one of Belthazor's hands. Wheeler placed a hand on her shoulder. And she teleported them out of the building.
END OF CHAPTER ELEVEN