Monday, June 3, 2013
"Bride of Belthazor" [PG-13] - 9/16
"BRIDE OF BELTHAZOR"
"What were you doing at the Anduin Marketplace?"
Idril's eyes blinked, as they met Artemus' unwavering stare. "Huh?"
The older daemon continued, "The Anduin Marketplace. You were seen there, recently. By one of my minions. What were you doing there?"
A wave of guilt overwhelmed Idril, as she quickly pondered on the possibility of Artemus becoming aware of her plans. She struggled to maintain a calm façade with a cool shrug. "Shopping, of course. For what other reason would I be there?"
His eyes still fixed upon the young demoness, Artemus continued, "You were seen leaving Valindril's tent. And she is known as one of the best collectors of rare antiquities throughout many dimensions. You were seen leaving her tent. Empty-handed. I'm curious. Did you sell something to her? Or . . . what?"
Panic threatened to overwhelm Idril. She took a deep breath. "Really Artemus! I don't understand this third degree."
"Forgive me, my dear, but let's just say that I'm very familiar with your shopping habits." Artemus leaned back into the leather chair, inside his spacious office. "You're the type who would prefer shopping for expensive clothes or perfume. Not rare magical antiquities. Unless you have some kind of plan." He paused dramatically, as his stare grew more intense. "And my source had informed me that you didn't bother to shop at any of the other tents and stalls - before and after your little visit to Valindril's tent. You didn't even stop to visit Yavanna's tent. And she happens to be one of your favorite fashion designers. If you are after something, I'm curious to know what you're after. And why."
Clearing her throat, Idril realized that she might as well tell the truth. To a certain degree. "If you must know," she said in a calm voice, "I was looking for something I could use against Nimue, once you assume the Source's throne. After all, she might prove to be a powerful adversary."
"Nimue?" Artemus snorted with contempt. "My dear, I'll deal with Nimue, once I become the new Source."
Relieved that the Khorne Order's leader believed her, Idril continued, "And how do you think that's going to affect me, if I become the Thorn Order's new leader?"
"If" Artemus frowned. "Don't you mean . . . when?"
Idril sidestepped her little faux pas. "No member of the Thorn Order or the new Source's Council will respect me, Artemus. Especially if you kill Nimue on my behalf. They will all probably assume that I had used sex to acquire my . . . new position. After all, I used to be Raynor's mistress. I would have a great deal of trouble maintaining discipline. And what about Belthazor? How do you think he'll react, once he learns of his mother's death, now they are closer? In fact, how do you plan to protect yourself from him, that McNeill witch, her family and the Charmed Ones?" Idril noted with pleasure that Artemus' self-confidence seemed to have slightly deflated.
A long silence followed, before Artemus stood up and headed toward the liquor cabinet. "I must admit that you have a point. As for Belthazor, I am working on a solution to the problem. At least my alchemists are."
"Alchemists?" Idril frowned.
"They're working on a power-stripping potion, as we speak." Artemus turned to the demoness. "Drink?"
Idril hesitated. "Um, absinthe, please."
While Artemus prepared Idril's drink, he continued, "Yes, alchemists. I realized that if a Charmed One - especially the least experienced one - could create a power-stripping potion for someone as powerful as Belthazor, so can they." He then handed a small glass of green liqueur to Idril. "And the sooner I use this potion on Belthazor, the . . ."
The moment she saw the stunned expression on Artemus' face, Idril felt an odd surge of energy within her body. She glanced down and saw an energy circle swirled around her feet. "What the hell?" she cried, as the circle rose higher and higher. The moment it reached her waist, it seemed as if her body was about to pull apart. "Artemus!"
"Don't worry," the older daemon declared in a calm voice. His shock had subsided. "You're not going . . ." Much to Idril's relief, the energy surge slowly dissipated until it vanished altogether. "Like I was about to say," Artemus finished, you're not going anywhere. This office is protected from unexpected arrivals. And departures." He handed the glass of absinthe to Idril.
The demoness stared at the other demon in horror. "What the hell was that?" she demanded in a shaky voice.
Coolly, Artemus replied, "Apparently, someone has just tried to summon you. However, I cannot imagine why." His eyes pierced through Idril's. "Can you?"
Idril shook her head. "No, I can't. I don't know. Maybe . . . Maybe it was some idiot magician trying to prove he can summon a daemon. I've ran into my share of such morons."
One of Artemus' brows rose questioningly. "Perhaps." He gave Idril a cryptic stare, as he returned to his desk, drink in hand. "In that case . . ." Artemus opened his desk drawer and removed an object. He tossed it over to Idril. It was an amulet.
"An amulet?" Idril said, frowning at the object. "What for?"
Artemus took a sip of his drink. "Protection, of course. To prevent anyone from summoning you against your will, once you leave here." His eyes narrowed briefly. "Although I'm still curious as to why anyone would."
Smiling weakly, Idril placed her drink on his desk and placed the amulet around her neck. "Yeah, so am I." Then she picked up her absinthe and took a sip.
"Dammit to bloody hell!" a masculine voice growled.
Cecile, Harry and Paige exchanged startled looks. The two women and the red-haired man had stepped outside of the McNeill house for a breath of fresh air, when the growl took them by surprise. "Who was that?" Paige murmured.
Harry shrugged his shoulders and continued down the terrace's steps. The two women followed. They found Brion Morgan on the grass nearby, kneeling beside a chalky outline of a circle. Cecile also spotted a small bottle of pink liquid beside him. "Brion?" Olivia's brother exclaimed. "What the hell are you doing?"
Looking slightly startled, the Welsh-born witch glanced up. "Eh? Oh, um . . ."
"Were you planning to vanquish someone?"
Mr. Morgan stiffened. "Actually, I was meditating. In private."
"With a vial of potion?" Harry pointed out. "Next to what obviously looks like a magic circle?"
A sigh left Mr. Morgan's mouth. "Is there a problem, Harry? Because how I conduct my mediation should be none of your concern."
Harry glared at his uncle. And Cecile regarded the older man with a hard stare. "Are you trying to summon a certain daemon, Mr. Morgan? One by the name of Idril?"
"And what if I am?" Mr. Morgan retorted. "No one, around here, seems to be taking the threat of this Idril daemon, seriously. And if your vision comes true - yours and Phoebe Halliwell's - if Bel . . . I mean, Cole marries this ex-lover of his, it could mean catastrophe for the magical world at large."
Cecile replied sharply, "We're all aware of that, Mr. Morgan. Which is why Cole is now on his guard. But this plan to summon Idril and kill her . . . what the hell were you thinking?"
"She's got a point," Paige added drily. "You were actually planning to summon a demon? Without the McNeills' knowledge?"
Mr. Morgan glared at the Charmed One. "May I remind you, Miss Halliwell that I am . . ."
"I beg your pardon?"
Paige sighed. "My last name is Matthews." Again, she sighed. "God! I sometimes get tired of saying that! Look, what I'm trying to say is that I had once summoned a darklighter without my sisters' knowledge. It was a stupid move and I got chewed out for my troubles. And I was a novice at the time. What's your excuse?"
Harry's uncle snatched the vial from the ground and sprung to his feet. "Now, see here . . ."
"No, you see here!" Harry shot back. "Look, Uncle Brion . . . I realize that you're concerned for Olivia's sake. But summoning that daemon in order to kill her is a bad idea. You did it without Mom or Dad's consent. After all, this is their home, not yours. I think your paranoia is getting the best of you."
The Welshman's pale face turned red with embarrassment. For less than a minute, his mouth remained pressed together in silence. Then, "It doesn't matter, anyway. I wasn't able to summon her."
"What a surprise!" Harry replied caustically. "Considering that Dad had cast a protection ward around the entire estate."
Mr. Morgan hissed in disgust, "Oh bloody hell!" He shook his head and marched away.
The trio watched the older man stalk into the house. "Do you think he'll try to go after Whatshername again?" Paige asked.
"Are you kidding?" Harry replied with a derisive snort. "Of course he will. The man's obsessed. Trust me."
Paige said with a sigh, "Well to be honest, I thought his idea of summoning Idril to vanquish her wasn't all that bad. Only his timing was off. And choice of location."
"Maybe to you," Harry replied, "but to us, killing someone who 'might' be a future threat is nothing more than murder."
"Yeah, but it's not like this Idril person is a human. She's a demon."
Harry retorted, "She's a sentient being, Paige. I'm sorry, but I don't agree."
Paige turned to Cecile. "You think I'm right, don't you?"
A sigh left Cecile's mouth. She did not want to get involved in this budding quarrel, but . . . She turned to Paige. "May I ask you something? Do you really see nothing wrong with killing any daemon that crosses your path, regardless of whether or not he or she is trying to do anything to you?"
An uneasy expression appeared on Paige's face. "Well . . . yeah. I mean . . . most of them are evil, right?"
"So, if you see nothing wrong with you and yours sisters killing daemons regardless of what they're doing, then wouldn't you say that it's okay for those daemons to do the same to you?"
"What? No! I mean . . ." Paige broke off and shook her head. "Never mind. I see that I'm going to lose this argument." She headed toward the terrace steps.
Both Cecile and Harry watched the Charmed One's receding figure. "Don't worry," Cecile said to Harry, "she'll see the light, one day. Hopefully."
Harry's only response was to simply sigh.
A daemon teleported into the middle of Idril's suite at the St. Francis. His eyes fell upon Gary, who was busy watching television. "Where's Idril?" he demanded. "I have news for her."
His eyes still glued to the television set, Gary murmured, "In her room. What's the news?"
"It's for Idril," the daemon retorted in a hard voice.
Gary rolled his eyes and sighed. Daemons could be such a stuck-up bunch! "Right."
Minutes later, the demoness strode into the suite's living room. Gary noticed that her outfit - a tight, long-sleeve red dress - accentuated her long legs and exposed her back. She stopped short at the sight of her minion. "Andros, you have news for me?"
"It's about Belthazor," Andros replied. "The McNeills are holding some kind of party for him at a nightclub called Vornado's."
Gary corrected him, "It's a bachelor's party, numb nuts. For the groom. God only knows how long it will be before Turner returns home for the night."
Ignoring the warlock, Idril said to Andros, "I want you and Cirith to go to Vornado's. In disguise, of course. Let me know when Belthazor leaves the party."
"It'll be a private party," Gary added. "How would they be . . .?"
Andros shot a contemptuous glare at the warlock. "Don't worry. We'll find a way. So do us a favor and mind your damn business!"
Angered by the daemon's contempt, Gary shot to his feet. "You know, you really need to learn to respect others," he hissed menacingly. "Some people are not exactly tolerant of bad manners. Like myself."
"Enough!" Idril cried. She turned to Gary. "Andros and Cirith are chameleon daemons. Shapeshifters. They'll be fine. Meanwhile, you and I have a priest to visit."
Gary nodded and sat back down on the sofa. "Mind if I finish my show, first?"
Andros rolled his eyes and teleported out of the suite. Much to Gary's pleasure.
End of CHAPTER NINE