The House On Gordon Square Part Four
Wishing you a very special Samhain this year Goddess Haylee. Hope you have a wonderful night. Love the pumpkin outfit btw! lots of Halloween kisses from England <3 x
starring Hypnotic Haylee
The House of Gordon Square Part Four
by princess indigo
The bodies of Peter Smoke and princess indigo had been borne from the van with great rapidity. The driver was very eager to leave but found himself caught in conversation.
‘You should stay Francis. It is a night of great celebration.’ said Marmerella, with faint traces of a Lancashire accent that was just audible above the cacophony that was taking place around them.
‘Celebrating seems to involve a lot of broken glass luv.’ replied Francis Blink tersely, as all through the building furniture and medical equipment was being thrown through the remaining unbroken panes of glass.
Before Marmerella could respond the Madana was interrupted by an out of breath acolyte.
‘The Guardian of the Gate has fallen to one of the Witches.’ said a hurried Latin American voice from underneath her cowl.
‘I told you she’d come knocking on your door, but you’ve been too busy breaking bloody windows.’ exclaimed Francis quite angrily.
‘We shall shed iron tears.’ answered Marmarella hotly.
‘A response has already been sent Madana.’ replied the acolyte.
‘Be quick be and prepare the Timerahn as you have been taught.’ ordered Marmerella and the acolyte was gone.
‘If you’re going to merrily pick a fight with the Witch of Feverahl then it’s time for me to bugger off.’ remarked Francis as he slammed the door and put his foot down, demolished a large tub of flowers in the process and didn’t look back.
There had been two dozen of them. All belonging to the Cult Nivertene and followers of Dakan just as the Guardian of the Gate. They had not fallen easily but now they too lay silent on the ground. Alexander Black retrieved his hat, his cane and his spectacles. He stood up and tapped disapprovingly at the broken lenses. The cracks gradually healed themselves as he muttered an incantation under his breath then put them on. The Witch of Feverahl stood in silence visually inspecting each one of the fallen.
‘Sweet Max is bleeding upon the ground and refusing to open his pretty eyes. It is very unbecoming. I hope he does not do it often.’ commented Alexander with a sad tone in his voice.
‘It is not a common occurrence.’ replied Goddess Haylee crouching down.
There was a small yellow flower in Her hand and she knelt down and placed it in his mouth. ‘Listen to My words, dear Max. Even though the taste is strange let the petals melt upon your tongue. Do not spit the flower out for it will keep you alive till morning.’
His eyes inched open and he pressed the flower against his palate with his tongue and passed out. Goddess wiped the blood from his brow and then stood up.
‘We should stow the sleepy Max in a place of safety before we go any further.’ Alexander suggested looking down at Max, back across to the Goddess and then at the large House that lay ahead of them.
‘I shall attend to it.’ replied Goddess Haylee curtly not in the best of humours, Her long black hair shining in the moonlight all the more for it.
She wheeled round without further comment and walked ten brisk paces up the drive and stopped, Her shoes making an audible sound on the tarmac.
Coming towards Her was a white van travelling at well over a hundred miles an hour. Francis Blink saw a figure in the drive way, realised who it was and cursed loudly out of the window ‘For god sake will you just get out of the bloody way!’ as the van grew closer and closer.
Goddess Haylee instantly raised Her hand and said calmly and loudly ‘I will do no such thing.’
The van reacted as if it had collided with something invisible, magical and very solid. The front crumpled, the rear wheels locked throwing the vehicle to one side with so much momentum that the van rolled over three times. It finally righted itself in far worse state then when it had begun. A bruised and battered Francis Blink stumbled out, nursing a very bloody nose.
‘Now then lady, don’t lose your temper. All I did was deliver a message and make a few cutting remarks. It wasn’t me who kidnapped your ginger friend right under your bloody nose.’ said a heated Francis Blink making a mess of a spotless white hanker chief as he brought it to his nose.
‘It was you who brought the princess and dear Peter Smoke to this blasted place. If you wish to draw another breath, you will grant me a favour Francis Blink.’ said Goddess Haylee taking a single step forward which made Francis take two steps back.
‘What sort of favour would be asking of a strange man in the middle of the night?’ said Mr Blink as sarcastically as he could manage.
‘Yonder Max has been injured, you will take him to a hospital that isn’t currently alight and ensure that he is safe. You will do it now’ replied Goddess Haylee in a tone of voice that clearly intimidated him.
‘And how am I supposed to do that after you’ve totalled me flipping van?’
Goddess Haylee banged Her staff angrily on the ground. The vans broken metal slowly unwrinkled itself, until the whole vehicle looked brand new and with the thoughtful addition of a fresh tank of petrol.
‘I better open the bloody doors then.’ said Francis Blink ungratefully and in a few moments Max was laid in the back of the van.
‘Enjoy the rest of evening lady.’ Francis Blink called out of the window as he started the engine.
‘Thank you Mr Blink. I suggest you spend the rest of it being thankful you are not dead.’ snapped Goddess Haylee back at him.
‘I’ll bear that in mind when my nose stops bleeding.’ said Francis and drove off.
‘What an interesting fellow.’ said Alexander with a smirk.
‘I swear you only woke up so we could gossip and swap observations about men.’ laughed Goddess Haylee, Her mood finally softening.
‘There has to be a kettle somewhere in that building so we can continue this conversation further.’ smiled Alexander.
‘We can look out for one as we saunter up the drive.’ chuckled Goddess Haylee and set off.
In the headlights of the cars going past it was not possible to make out what it was. Those with better eyes would have made out a large upside down pair of dark wings, swinging in the late night breeze.
In the few moments it was visible in their field of vision, some drivers may concluded that it was a vulture or other bird of prey, that had mistakenly ventured into the city of Kigali. It’s subsequent misadventures leaving it dangled from the traffic island tree.
Even if it had been permitted, few would have stopped their cars to venture out onto the damp grass in the darkness to discover that it was merely a disembowelled pair of large black wings with no discernible owner.
‘I had not expected to find you here.’ said Ariel as she stepped out onto one of the veranda’s of the Hotel Serena and addressed the only other occupant.
‘They are in the process of replacing every building in Kigali. I still have a place in the old city but it’s future is very much in doubt. I am here at the Serena until I decide upon which of the new districts to make my home. So, where are you wings today Ariel?’ said the old Rwandan man still retaining some of the handsome looks that had served him well in younger days.
The flecks of grey in his hair enhanced rather than deflected from his beauty. He took another sip of cassava and did not get up to greet the visitor more informally.
‘Crossing the Kalahari filled my feathers with dust.
I washed them in a fountain and hung them from a tree.’ said Ariel pacing as she spoke.
‘How is Mortimer..?’ said the man flatly.
‘He stirs in his bed but does not wake.’ said Ariel taking a glass of cassava from a newly arrived waitress but not sitting down as the waitress left.
‘And what has Mortimer found out that troubles him so? Is it now Ruzizi’s time to be told? Is that what you have been doing Ariel? Flying from place to place bearing bad news?’ said Ruzizi in a bitter rush.
‘That is exactly what I have been doing. The story does not get better with the telling.’ answered Ariel with an angry sadness.
‘Then say the words, so you know that Ruzizi too has heard them.’ he replied impatiently.
‘This place has fallen. It cannot be saved. Take what you can and fly.’ said Ariel grumpily at the little dance she had been made to do.
‘Queen Doro has already been with the news. She stood there on the balcony and pleaded with me to go with her.’ he explained.
‘Then pack up your Shabti in their ceremonial box and go find your Magi bride; for you must have some sense left in your old wooden head Ruzizi.’ retorted Ariel.
‘She is no longer my bride, Ariel.’ he said revealing the source of his discontent.
‘Just leave Ruzizi. I have plenty more to visit tonight, I do not have the time or humour to stand bickering with you.’ she countered.
‘I would not leave when they were handing out machetes from suitcases until there were so many knives the bodies were piled up in the street. I have been here since there were just a few shacks in the dirt, I will not leave.’ he protested.
‘You will be hunted and killed. Or your library broken open, your books plundered and you’re foolish head converted to their cause.’ Ariel answered with protests of her own.
‘I have great grand children that work in this very hotel, I will not leave them to their fate. Now leave me to finish my cassava.’ said Ruzizi breaking their gaze and looking away.
‘Damn your bloody cassava.’ said Ariel angrily putting down her own glass snatching up his own and hurling it across the verdana so it smashed noisily on the floor.
‘Just leave Ruzizi! Or I shall return with Foxavier and between the two of us, we shall drag you out of Kigali ourselves.’ she shouted at him and then left, just as the startled waitress was returning to investigate the noise.
‘Don’t trouble the mewling brat on my account.’ said Ruzizi to himself.
When the inevitable questions came, he merely sighed at the waitress, scratched his beard vociferously and reluctantly rose to pack.
As they reached hospital there was a loud crash as more of the west wing roof fell in.
‘Well it was the whole night by all accounts!’ said Goddess Haylee responding to some of Alexander’s ribaldries and questions that have been lost to history, as She spared the hospital a glance with Her glowing green eyes.
‘God knows what revelations have been told while I slept in my little brass pot.’ muttered a distracted Alexander and fell silent as he too looked up at the hospital looming large in front of them.
In the silence they both came to a stop.
‘Alexander?’ said the Goddess sensing his change in mood.
‘The last time I was here…’ he said with a wrinkled visage.
‘What is it…’ asked the Goddess Her coaxing voice full of magick.
‘Word of our arrival had got out. They had time to prepare. From the moment we arrived…’ he said struggling to get the words out of his mouth.
‘What manner of thing was it?’ She pressed on.
‘That manner of thing there…’ said Alexander and they began walking again until they reached the large Victorian entrance, where he raised his walking stick to point at what it was.
There by the threshold was a young Fae woman, in brown robes of many different shades, stood on her tip toes and pinned to the wall by a sword that had been driven horizontally between her eyes. Minutes earlier the sword had been pushed in right up to the hilt, destroying the beautiful brown eyes that had once been there. Her pointed ears sticking out through her chestnut coloured hair, betraying she was indeed of the Fae.
‘I have read of this but not seen it for myself. Share what you know dear Alexander.’ She said quietly, touching his arm gently seeing how troubled he was by the sight of it.
‘She is Timerahn. This is one of their customs of battle. The way is barred by magick and we cannot cross the threshold until the blade is drawn.’ he said rubbing his beard as he looked at the woman on the wall.
‘Go on Scholar.’ Goddess Haylee instructed.
‘It is a Timerahn trap. A battle sacrifice to ensnare an enemy. A bitter use of magicks it is. As soon as the sword is drawn it summons dark and powerful forces to curse and blight the enemy. It is the same trick they used the last time I was here and the cost was great, I tell you that.’ he said ruefully.
‘Too much has been lost today, to turn our heels and run away.’ came the answer that only a Goddess could give and the Witch of Feverahl grabbed the sword by the hilt and pulled it from the wall with all Her strength.
There was an old theatre near Lezuma Park and that had been his destination. It was a cold evening and his breath hung in the air as he walked along. The feather Ariel had given in him, had grown searing hot in his hand and he had almost dropped it as flew across the sky. All on the journey he had kept the dim image of Buenos Aires in his mind now the reality of the city was all around him.
He put the feather back in the pocket of his jacket which was inadequate against the cold. He was in the centre of Lezuma Park itself, not quite where he had expected to be. There was music echoing over the park from the bars that ran along its edge. He stopped and listened, unsure of which direction to go.
He had been through the Park with some of them on his last visit and he guessed the memory was the cause for him being here now. He recognised a few of the restaurants and bohemian arcades he could see through the trees. He had often studied the faces there, for some insight into the human condition that had so filled the surface of the Earth.
The park was dark, icy and cold. Some of the trees were caught in the street lights and seemed to loom out of the darkness. They felt vast and old, he imagined they were watching him in their own way. A few lost souls passed him but he felt no inclination to approach, they were not who he was looking for.
As he emerged from Lezuma Park he found himself facing a particular direction and he felt it was the right way to go. He struck out following the impulse and continued up the road that ran along the park like an old decorative border.
He was stopped on three separate occasions for noxious powders, two persons offering to sell, one enquiring to buy.
He grunted a no and shook his head to underline it, deciding to cross the street and avoid a fourth interruption to his concentration.
This was the San Telmo district and there were many bars and late night shops and all manner of different restaurants and colourful cosy little places to eat. Couples and small groups of people wandered past him, quickly darting inside out of the cold.
Something in him hurt and he realised he had burnt his hand badly. He recalled clutching at the glowing feather as he passed high over the dark Atlantic. Praying he would not lose his grip upon the bright hot object and tumble to his death.
San Telmo is one of the older parts of Buenos Aires with a long patch worked history. The crumbling nineteenth century buildings reminded him of his London home but with more flourish to the eaves, roofs and windows. The windows of the bars let the interior lights out like tatty sequins and the glimpses of impromptu tango dances inside made his task harder. Walking past each doorway he felt the cold a little more.
San Telmo of all the old city districts in the world had one of the largest colonies of Magi. He had been here on many errands and even more misadventures. His last visit had gone particularly badly, his pride and a little of his reputation had been frayed and frazzled. He had not been back since.
Lost in this recall he walk past a large antiques shop and found himself unable to proceed. The old flotsam and jetsam of Argentina filling every corner with hand written price tags hung from each item, written with a fountain pen in the old style. He had reached his destination.
Though the nineteenth century gas lamps with modern electric bulbs were illuminated, the door of the shop was locked shut. The sign declared that they were closed in an old Spanish serif font, who’s name and typesetting have been long lost to the printers of the world.
He reached for the feather in his jacket, instead the lock turned and the door opened of its own accord. He made a little sigh, closed his jacket and went inside.
The large ground floor was overflowing with Italian and Spanish antique furniture, with smaller objet d’art hung from every and more items stacked on every table and chair. There were shelves, pedestals, chairs, sideboards, bureaus and rocking chairs. Books books and more books. A plethora of decorative lamps hung from the walls, the ceiling or sat upon furniture nestling in amongst it all.
Once again, he felt echoes of old London but the metal and glasswork had an epidemic floral finish that was missing on the other side of the Atlantic. In spite of his previous misadventures, had his life taken a different course, he would have moved to San Telmo. He felt a wrankling pang that now he may never get the chance.
In the middle of the room was a wide stairway with a red carpet, brass banisters and carpet braces. Heated female voices could be clearly heard from the landing above.
A small well groomed, elderly man, in a Latin American tweed three piece suit, stepped out from the forest floor of furniture and coughed. His attention caught, the man said nothing to the guest, merely looked over the top of his spectacles gestured with a balletic move of his hand and Foxavier went upstairs.
There amid the most expensive of the shops antiquities sat in a circle of leather chesterfield sofas and chairs were some of the most highly regarded Magi in all the world. Elders of once vast clans and families. Dressed in dark rich reds, purples and blacks complementing the decor around them. As if the past was a separate kingdom that belonged entirely to them, which it did. Their clothes were edged with much black lace, all frilled collars and cuffs. Foxavier had known them all for a very long time.
There was Felistare, Samantra, the Widow Barbary, Lady Synistry, Tinsh-timery, and the Grand Madame of the Swans. Each had a porcelain cup in their hand and in place of a coffee table was the tattered grey robed figure of a Baba Yaga on her knees, her hands bound behind her, with a silver coffee pot on a silver tray sat upon her back. They fell silent as Foxavier reluctantly approached them.
‘Your journey has been a wasted one Foxavier.’ declared the Widow Barbary to murmurs of agreement.
‘We have it from the source. What a bitter foul smelling thing it is.’ spat Lady Synistry.
‘It and its companions assumed that if this place has indeed fallen then they had free access to our buildings and our property.’ the Grand Madame of the Swans continued banging her walking cane upon the well varnished floor boards.
‘It’s companions were very insistent and full of folly.’ Tinish-timery.
‘They soon understood the depth of their error.’ echoed Samanthra glaring at the Baba Yaga on the floor.
‘This one has finally fallen silent, after singing much that was of interest to us. Rest assured Foxavier, word has already been sent. Your job has been done for you, not for the first time. We were about to send it to join its companions, after a little further discussion.’ Felistare informed him ,poking the Baba Yaga painfully with a black frilled umbrella.
‘Do not…’ Foxavier said, surprising even himself.
‘You feel sorry for it? Foolish sentimental Foxavier.’ chuckled the Grand Madame of the Swans.
‘It is no friend of yours. Are you girl?’ snapped Samnathra, giving the Baba Yaga a kick.
‘I will take responsibility for her.’ Foxavier found himself saying.
‘Sentimental Foxavier. Never borne but put together like a badly ticking clock. Broken, tinkered with and reassembled many times again.’ remark Tinsh-timery condescendingly.
‘What do you intend to bargain with, stupid Foxavier?’ the Widow Barbary asked him scornfully.
‘Bargain?’ Foxavier queried, his burrow furrowing.
‘I have some terms for you Foxavier. A lock of your hair and a drop of your blood in exchange for this thing.’ decided Felistare.
Before he could even agree, Lady Synestri rose with a large pair of scissors in her hand and cut a lock of hair from his head, then drew the unexpectedly sharp blade across his cheek.
The Baba Yaga was dragged to her feet by the whole group of them and pushed towards him. His hosts merely standing silently looking at him. Sensing there were no more words to be had, he untied the woman. Taking her bandaged hand, he led her down the stairs and walked out uncertainly into the street.
Goddess Haylee was learned, powerful and experienced. She had over the years accumulated an abundant supply of special items, herbs and many, many reference books. All in their totality impractical to carry but none the less essential for moments such as these.
She had many a secret hiding place, an abandoned house, a hidden passage or an underwater cave with an air pocket big enough for two. A large wooden box that sat innocuously under a desk in an old railway station somewhere. All unnoticed and untouched save by the owner and the one given the task of keeping them safe and replenishing items that had been spent. Such foresight saved many a long journey to Feverahl and back.
That is to say, that Goddess Haylee had an attendant spirit. Not a ghost exactly, but something or someone not of this realm. A mysterious elusive entity, who when summoned would do Her bidding in times of need. His name, for it was a he, was Phisalae.
The details of their history and the terms of his compliance were known only to themselves. He did have a life of his own, but not a mortal one as we would know it. Simply put there were certain demands upon his time which meant he could not always come when called. Whenever possible he was at the beck and call of his Master and Goddess.
Goddess Haylee thought for the briefest of moments and then pictured a particular item in Her mind, then a moment later She snapped Her fingers. An old black satchel appeared eight feet away, walked itself to where She was standing and the Goddess took it by the strap with ‘Thank you dear Phisalae’, then knelt down and began to rummage inside.
‘Tharfax…no…aradavish…no…hair of colic dog…hardly…no…no.. a little black box of nither sight!’ She said pulling an engraved black box from the satchel.
‘Nither sight, for this evil little Timerahn sent to vex us.’ scoffed Alexander, the memory of the last time he was here at the forefront of his mind.
‘They are not all evil the Timerahn, by any means. We do not know her history to make such judgements. Whoever she was and whatever life she had, she is quite dead now Alexander.’ said Goddess Haylee gently reprimanding him as She went about complicated work.
‘An ounce of wisdom from the wise. I shall count my blessings and still my tongue.’ he said in a conciliatory tone.
‘Dont go that far dear Scholar, I shall never forgive you.’ said Goddess Haylee with a smile Her greens eyes twinkling, ‘Besides most of her brains are embedded in the wall yonder or on the blade of the sword that put them there. Whatever malice aforethought was in her shall not trouble us over much.’ said Goddess Haylee resolutely, as She finished cleaning the wound in the dead woman’s head and opened the box.
Inside were three dark little spheres, suspended in dark murky liquid which had an oily film covering it.
‘Three…only three, the rest have perished with age. Best go hunting in Ruldegig market for some fresh sweet Phisalae. I would come with you but I fear I am going to be quite busy.’ said Goddess Haylee making a decision and plucking two spheres from the box.
‘Or dead.’ said Alexander glumly.
‘You read too many gothic novels Alexander!’ exclaimed Goddess Haylee and pushed first one then the other of two spheres into the horizontal wound where once had sat the eyes of the Timerahn.
‘I borrowed them off you.’ retorted Alexander with a chuckle peering at what see was doing and pulling a little face.
‘Then you better give them back!’ the Goddess exclaimed as She wiped Her fingers.
She closed the box, put it back in the satchel and held it out for Phisalae to take, which he did in an instant. Looking around She picked up the sword that had caused such a dramatic injury and wiped it on the grass, took a cloth from Her robes to more thorough clean it, admiring the blade in the moonlight.
‘She’s not doing very much.’ Alexander remarked looking down at the inert creature.
‘They’re taking root. When the two separate strands reach the brain cavity and begin to interlace then she will start to wake.’ said the Witch of Feverahl standing up.
‘Well this one may rise to find nither sight growing out from the hole in the back of its head.’ said Alexander his compulsion for sarcasm a congenital condition.
‘Then I will prune it or get Phisalae to fetch a hat. Now hush Alexander, she is waking up.’ said the Goddess with a small gesture of Her hand to indicate She meant it.
The Timerahn sat up groggily, too much of her brain gone to allow her much speech. She screwed up her face, unaccustomed to the replacement eyes that were in her head.
‘Name?’ it asked croakily, ‘Name?’ she said rubbing the back of her head, where the nither sight was busy filling in the hole.
‘Stand up Timerahn.’ commanded the Witch of Feverahl full of authority.
The Timerahn screwed up its face again, shook its head quite forcefully. She tried to stand failed and offered up a hand indicating she would not achieve the task on her own.
Goddess Haylee and Alexander both helped the wobbily new arrival to her feet.
‘You must give me a name for the spell to begin. Name, please give me a name. A name, a name must be given for this to begin. Name, name, name…’ the Timerahn declared, its speech becoming clearer.
‘You shall be Tawney. That is the name I bestow upon you.’ said Goddess Haylee straightening her crumpled robes and smoothing down the long chestnut brown hair which was quite askew.
‘Why this name?’ said the woman flatly, turning her head stiffly and looking at the Goddess.
‘The markings on your face and the manner of your dress struck Me as like the Tawney owl.’ replied the Goddess, ‘I am very fond of owls and all night things. Now take a deep breath Tawney of the Timerahn, you are about to be born.’
Tawney did as she was bid and as the breath finished she clutched her head as the spells bred into the nither sight roots caused its growth to accelerate. Forcing Tawney the Timerahn onto her knees and with a great cry. There was further pain and louder noises, until finally both subsided and the newborn Timerahn stood up.
‘Greetings Tawney of the Timerahn. I am the Goddess Haylee. Take this sword and become My personal protector. This protection is extended to My friend Alexander Black.’ said the Witch of Feverahl with great ceremony.
‘I’m afraid you have your work cut out for this evening.’ remarked Alexander.
It had grown a little colder, even for a summer’s night.
‘There are not many who come visit us here on Sakhalin.’ he said poking the fire with his stick.
Ariel had flown to Sakhalin, an island north of Japan in the Sea of Okhotsk. Primarily a Russian territory with three indigenous peoples one of whom was known as the Nivkh.
‘You have an old name Ixion.’ said Ariel not sitting down, prowling restlessly in the shadows.
‘I am an old man, named after old things. Not as old as the Ab. Not as old as you.’ he said and poked the fire in a manner that show she was not welcome.
‘If I knew where to find you, so will they.’ replied Ariel, her voice echoing in the crumbling concrete building, glimpsing the stars through the holes in the ceiling.
‘I have long since parted company with the Magi and the Scholars. I tell stories round the fire, sing old songs badly and play my bear drum. Some of the Nivkh grandmothers poke their grandchildren in the ribs and whisper that I was old when they were young. That there was a time when even grandmothers ran barefoot in the grass and giggled with rapturous mirth at being alive.’ he said croakily, for he had grown more and more reclusive and had not spoken for some time.
‘You have knowledge that would be of use in the strife that is to come.’ said Ariel finally coming to a stop and pouring a small cup of tea from the old clay pot and sipping with a graciousness that was not always apparent.
‘There is no wisdom in my old head that I wish to share!’ he snapped.
‘Then I would ask to talk with the old She bear and her cous-lings before the sunrise.’ said Ariel.
‘I know no bears.’ came a cold lie from the old man’s mouth.
‘This is the night to ask for the unwelcome favours. Aye Ixion, not tomorrow, the day after that or the day yonder!’ rounded Ariel her patience, fraying further than it had before.
‘Tell it to the five decks.’ he said angrily, unaccustomed to being petitioned.
‘Oh spare me from old and contrary souls. For their wit and wine is like unto a cup of dead roses served to a deaf donkey with no hat!’ said Ariel with a loud growl kicking a brand from the fire which scattered sparks this way and that as it bounced along in the darkness.
‘I know no bears.’ he reasserted refusing to budge.
‘Damn you Ixion, will you not go to the forest and shake your drum?’ she heatedly beseeched him.
‘No!’ he answered.
‘This is a night like no other Ixion. Will you not listen, you stubborn old man!’ she was shouting now and it made no difference.
‘Whatever the month, whatever the week, whatever the day, whatever the hour, there is always intrigue, trouble and strife!’ he yelled waving his stick with an old fury, ‘On a calm and sunny day one person will turn to the other and ask the time, in secret preparation for some Machiavellian act. So in turn the answer is amended to suit the teller and fool the asker. Soon the lie will become known and fiery recriminations made. Tempers are lost, blows struck, curses sworn and so it goes on and on and on. Season upon season, like bad habits reborn again and again. It never ever stops.’ Ixion said, his years of frustration with the business of life boiling up like the old worn kettle hung over the fire.
‘So be it old Ixion, do not shake your drum.’ she said at last in a much gentler tone, ‘Stubborn though thou art, I wish thee well. All I have left to visit this night, are those twice as stubborn as you. Even more reclusive and contrary, on far further islands than this one. So spare me your rancour and send me away with a wry smile, a kind word and we will forgive each other’s reprimands.’ said Ariel finally when the old man had recovered his temper.
‘Then leave them be and return to London.’ replied the Ixion not looking up from the fire, his voice softening with each word.
‘Perhaps I will.’ said Ariel dropping her cup onto the dirty concrete floor, impassively letting it break.
Then, pulling open the knot of the rope that held her long black wings in place so they would not trail in the fire, she rose up through the broken ceiling into the night.
She did not return to London, as much as she wanted to.
The hospital had fallen silent, as if anticipation of them. The Witch of Feverahl found herself opening her green eyes wide and looking back at the way they had come. All over the grounds lay the fallen bodies of patients and staff who had tried to flee. On some of the closer bodies it was possible to see in detail the injuries inflicted and the expressions of the dead. She did not avert Her eyes, when they fell upon them, it fuelled whatever resolve had brought Her this far. When there was no more looking to be done, She turned in silence to Alexander and the new borne Tawney and then to the darkened entrance of the hospital itself.
A single light in the foyer came on, leaving much of it in shadows, the light making the Witch’s long black hair shine. The rest of windows of the hospital were in darkness, save those rooms that were ablaze.
Somewhere deeper in the building, something large was thrown through a window several stories up. The glass and whatever had been thrown made noisy contact with the ground below. From the same direction someone screamed in a manner that was extremely chilling.
There were further cries and protests, followed by quiet, then a loud clatter as the owner of the protesting voice landed upon something metal and made no other noise. The hospital too fell once more into silence, which was far more unsettling than the noises that preceded it.
‘I think they are ready for us Alexander.’ said Goddess Haylee, glancing at up him then taking a reluctant step towards the hospital’s doors.
‘Is this the right time to confide I am afraid of the dark?’ he said.
‘Do you have any Shabti about your person Scholar?’ said the Goddess not rising to his frail levity, Her voice lost in thought as She edged a little closer towards the building.
‘I have the last of them deep in my coat pockets. All but two are left, the rest were lost. I have not had the chance to carve the set anew.’ he said with slight hesitation as found himself remembering the night in question in more detail.
‘Then save them until their hands are round your throat!’ said Goddess Haylee insistently, not turning round.
‘Alas there is only one left after that. Mariander my favourite of all.’ said Alexander placing the small lapis lazuli statuette in the top pocket of his coat and patting it gently.
‘Have your sword in your hand Tawney of Timerahn. Be brave and be ready.’ said the Goddess without looking back and stepped even closer to the building.
‘Yes Master.’ answered the Timerahn with a warrior’s voice, drawing her sword and taking a step forward.
‘In the darkness things unseen, that do not wish us well. Let us three go venture there and send them all to Hell.’ said the Goddess with a dark and serious manner, then led them inside.
In front of them was the badly lit, wide reception area of the hospital. The reception desk was in turmoil and much of its contents strewn about the foyer, along with over turned chairs and a coffee machine that appeared to be the victim of a motorway pile up. A photocopier had been dragged from the side office and disembowelled. The contents of it were strewn over the bodies of admin staff, nurses, doctors and dozen or more patients. Blood and black ink from the toner cartridge of the photocopier was smeared all over the floor and hand prints of both colours lined the walls.
In the still air was the smell of burning, dead people and the additional odour of burning dead people. From the unlit insides of the building, doors banged open and shut. A loud noise and tremors in the floor were felt as something heavy and metal was rammed with a steady rhythm against some door of a similar variety, continuing in slow monotony like a bell. The sound and the vibration disquieting the senses of all who heard it.
Either side of the war torn reception desk was a set of doors leading to the darkened innards of the building. Both sets of doors hung painful from their hinges as if the assailants had a deep hatred for the very fabric of the building itself.
‘Timerahn have done some of this. Some Baba Yaga and others, many others. Some have already left, more are coming, many more.’ said Tawney sniffing the air, then crouching down and sniffing at the bodies, ‘I think I killed this one, it has my smell upon it.’ she said standing up, ‘The fire has taken hold, come sunrise this place will be all ash.’
‘I sense a great tangle of threads in this place. Your legacy Alexander, the past and present of the hospital itself and the wreckage of what has been twice vested upon it. A mad, frenetic jumble of life, death and Magick. There are undercurrents of yet more things set in motion. Some of it I can grasp but much is in shadow. I smell a dark future in all of it.’ said the Goddess, as She garnered as much as could She from Her senses and Her great experience.
‘We have kicked over a bucket full of trouble. New and old! Peter Smoke is lain somewhere in all this mess. I can hear a single note played quietly. By the sound, I think he will be dead before we reach him. If we reach him at all. What of your other friend, is she here among this?’ replied Alexander solemnly.
‘She is here. If it weren’t for her dealings with the Fae I would not sense her at all. The traces are so faint and hidden by Magik. “Old Magick berthed by stars none dare name except in whispers…”‘ said the Goddess thoughtfully.
‘The Book of Nivertene.’ Added Alexander.
‘And pious self important prose it is.’ growled the Goddess.
‘I tried to finish it but it made my sinuses hurt and I had to put the kettle on.’ chuckled Alexander.
‘At you least you were a little wise, I soldiered on with the damn thing. I never finished it though. My little hermitage was burgled and it was among the volumes taken. I was so vexed I moved out my belongings and burnt it to the ground, for one of my dogs…no matter…it is not the time for stories.’ said the Goddess sweeping the memory from Her mind with a little gesture of Her fingers as Her long black hair fell across Her shoulders.
There was an unexpected movement and noise. Goddess Haylee and Alexander turned to see Tawney dash towards the doors of the East wing, stopping just ahead of them and reaching down for something. Which she promptly sniffed at and brought back to them.
‘This has his smell upon it. The unrepentant dusty book ridden smell of a Scholar.’ declared Tawney and handed what she had found to Alexander.
‘It is my Shabti box!’ exclaimed Alexander, taking it from Tawney’s hand.
‘Do not open it in haste.’ said the Goddess Haylee raising Her hand in alarm.
‘It feels empty enough. The seal has been broken and the blessing carved on it has been defaced.’ he said inspecting it and giving it a gentle shake to see if it was truly empty.
The shake brought forth a small rattling noise but no further clues. All that was left was to open the box.
‘Phisalae be ready. I may have need of you.’ called Goddess Haylee and the doors of the hospital creaked open and soft footsteps were heard, ‘Do it Alexander but do it quick.’ instructed the Goddess ready for trouble.
Alexander took a deep melodramatic breath and openly the box sharply. Inside, among little step like rows was a single Shabti. He reached inside tenderly and took from the box. The face of the tiny lapis figurine had been scratched out, making Alexander’s own become crestfallen and sad.
‘They have killed dear Whitsiminie!’ he said in a tone suggesting that the figurine had been something once alive, which indeed it had.
At the call of the dead Shabti’s name the light in the lobby went out and a light in the east corridor came on.
‘Bread crumbs in the forest.’ muttered Goddess Haylee.
‘We are being led, we must be on our guard.’ voiced Tawney looking slowly about her, her sword in hand.
‘Indeed.’ said the Goddess.
Alexander with elegant hurry returned Whitsiminie to the box, closed the lid with no small sense of reverence and stowed it away in his coat. The three of them edged forward through ruined doorway into the light beyond.
They found the long hospital corridor dimly lit for a hundred metres before descending back into darkness. Littered over the floor were patients records, medical equipment and the inner contents of the vending machine.
Broken limbs and other body parts lay among packets of crisps, chocolate, and scattered case notes. Bloody hand and fingerprints lined the walls. They glanced up at the ceiling to see the words ‘This place has fallen’ written in blood, a pair of step ladders lay across the far end of the corridor, a bloody trail left behind it.
Bits of the false ceiling were missing. Through the gaps it was possible to see that tied to the pipes and girders were police and ambulance crew. Their foreheads plastered with gaffa tape, keeping their heads in place, so it was possible to see their throats had been cut. Each hanging directly above the dark puddle that had dripped on the floor. The smell of blood was fresh and the smell of burning was stronger here.
‘May trees grow over the place that you lie. Though when we look for you, we’ll look to the sky. So the stars will take you and sing to you rest, then write you a lullaby, a song for the blessed.’ whispered the Goddess to an astonished Tawney.
‘It’s an old Timerahn blessing for those…’ explained the Witch of Feverahl to Alexander’s puzzled face.
‘…who have met a troubled death.’ finished Tawney and then looked away.
‘It is a verse from old dusty books left in long forgotten places!’ exclaimed the Goddess breaking the uncomfortable silence.
‘We should look for another of your Shabti scholar.’ said Tawney forcibly moving the subject along.
‘I think I have found it without looking.’ said Alexander stiffly gazing along the corridor down at the floor.
Tawney sniffed the air, stepped rapidly over different pieces of debris, jumped over the fallen step ladders and stopped just short of a half open set of doors shrouded in darkness.
‘It is just on the threshold. Shall I fetch it?’ said Tawney about to bend down.
‘No Tawney!’ yelled the Goddess, ‘Do not be impulsive.’
‘It is a statuette just like the others.’ said Tawney still looking down at it.
‘Tawney step back from the doors. Do it now.’ instructed the Goddess in a stern voice.
‘Do as she says Timerahn, it is not safe.’ seconded Alexander.
‘Sniff the air.’ hissed the Goddess as Tawney was transfixed by indecision.
Tawney did as she was instructed and leapt backwards over the step ladders landing on her haunches, ‘There is something in the shadows. It waits and watches.’ said the Timerahn alarmed that she had not sensed it before.
‘Walk slowly back and stand beside us. Make no rash decisions until we are sure of what it is.’ commanded the Goddess and Tawney walked backwards slowly watching her steps but continually glancing up at the doors.
When she was done, a figure at last stepped out of the shadows.
‘I know what it is.’ said Alexander in painful recognition.
‘Then quickly impart your knowledge Scholar.’ said the Goddess urgently.
‘It is the handsome doctor, I met so many years ago. He was the bait of the Timerahn trap. They have kept his body fresh all this time and now he has been awakened.’ said Alexander his voice revealing the hurt that his words did not.
The man stepped forward, the light revealing the period clothing that matched Alexander’s. The man did not respond other than to move his foot forward and step on the Shabti that had led to his arrival and press down with his foot until the figurine broke in two.
‘Parvillion…’ muttered Alexander wincing at the action.
‘Was that it’s name?’ said the doctor, kneeling down and picking up the two broken pieces,’ I shall steal these broken parts of him and claim all that he was.’ he added picking up the pieces, rising to his feet, then slowly putting them in his mouth and swallowing them.
‘What are you?’ snapped Goddess Haylee disgusted by what She saw.
‘I am what they have made me. From now I shall be known as Parvillion, eater of souls. I have other matters with which to attend, but we will renew our acquaintance by the morning.’ said Parvillion turning to go.
‘Wait!’ yelled Alexander.
‘You shall not leave.’ said Goddess Haylee raising Her staff and with a powerful spell compelled him to turn back around.
‘You should not have done that Witch.’ replied Parvillion frozen to the spot.
‘We have questions for you Parvillion.’ boomed the Goddess’s voice down the corridor.
‘I owe you answers none.’ replied Parvillion scornfully, twisting painfully trying to escape the spell that held him fast.
‘Who was it that made you? What is their name?’ commanded Goddess Haylee loudly causing panels to fall down from the ceiling.
‘You will find out soon enough, but I will not confide in thee.’ replied Parvillion his voice full of venom.
‘Your mind is slippery but it will be opened to Me.’ said the Goddess as She probed his thoughts, Her voice echoing eerily all around them.
‘The boughs of Feverahl are laden with fruit, I could eaten them one by one.’ answered Parvillion with a cruel chuckle.
‘You will never find it.’ said a scornful Goddess, Her temper rising.
‘Phislae knows where it lies, perhaps I can catch him. But do not worry Witch, I am not here for you.’ answered Parvillion turning his gaze to Alexander.
‘And what is it you want with me?’ said Alexander his own temper rising.
‘To destroy all you hold dear.’ came the calm and self assured answer.
‘I will tear every plot and plan from your head for that. By morning you will know not rhyme nor reason.’ said the Goddess full of fire, raising Her hand and lifting Parvillion off the floor with Her power, until he was pinned against the ceiling.
‘It is time for you to open your book dear Scholar.’ She instructed, as Tawney watched the scene wide eyed.
‘I am certainly in agreement with you.’ replied Alexander, an old leather bound book rising from his pocket and settling in his hand.
The book opened under it’s own power and the pages turned with a gentle gesture of his fingers, until they settled on a particular passage.
‘The very thing for creatures of the dark.’ said Alexander to himself as the Witch of Feverahl carefully approached the angry and struggling Parvillion.
‘Tawney…’ said the Goddess over Her shoulder.
‘Master?’ enquired the Timerahn.
‘Watch our backs and do no reckless things.’ Goddess Haylee commanded.
‘Yes Master.’ responded the warrior drawing closer and turning to watch the doorway which they had come, listening for the slightest sound.
‘You have made an enemy of both of us, all too quickly Parvillion, Eater of Souls.’ declared Goddess Haylee with a darknes in Her eye.
‘I am a new born thing. Full of the strength and fury of a mewling brat, I will not be held against my will!’ yelled Parvillion at the top of his voice, thrashing in his unseen bonds.
‘Where are My friends!’ shouted Goddess Haylee back at him, shaking the creature like thunder.
‘Do not look for what cannot be saved.’ roared the creature back at Her.
‘Then listen thing, and listen well, “The Emperor grew tired of the interloper and cursed him thus. ‘Give us your secrets, give and confess. Give up your secrets with your dying breath.”‘ recited Alexander from his book causing the air to hum with power.
‘All the dead Parvillion knew of you, I know. Your ways and your craft, are transparent as glass. I will not bend to your words!’ raged Parvillion, the panels in the ceiling rattling with his anger.
‘Your body will break before you slip free of us. Tell us thing, tell us it all!’ commanded Goddess Haylee at full volume, the humming and rattling increasing greatly.
‘I was made from many. I will break and break again only to grow anew. It will be a long time hence before I breathe my last. That is the very marrow of the truth of it.’ growled Parvillion and with a calamitous anger wrenched himself free of his bonds and fell heavily to the ground breaking many bones in his exertions.
Both Goddess Haylee and Alexander made a rush for him, he rose with the patchwork of magick that he knew. Standing there crumpled and bleeding, growling like a cornered dog.
‘May they send you to damn-ded Coventry.’ he cursed at them, causing the lights to go out.
Through the broken doors in front of them they could see a lift opening casting illumination onto his fleeing figure, the doors closed and then he was gone.
Alexander struck three matches, causing an eager little light in the persistent blackness.
‘There.’ pointed the Goddess, ‘There is a last fragment of the Shabti. Fetch it and there shall be light as before.’
Alexander did as he was bid and a dim reluctant light in the next corridor along came on, blinking above the lift doors indicating that was where they had to go.
He yelped and let his matches go, sucking his fingers then nursing the tiny piece.
‘I cannot say his name.’ said Alexander finally putting the fragment in the box with the others, almost in tears.
‘How many souls did you count that he had eaten?’ said Goddess Haylee giving Alexander a gentle touch on his arm.
‘A round dozen. No bloody more and no bloody less.’ said Alexander rapping out the beat of the words with his walking stick, as he finished.
‘There were four more in his pocket. I smelt them.’ added Tawney, drawing closer to them.
‘With more to follow. I do not think we will see him again today, but still let us hope he is not waiting in the lift.’ said Goddess Haylee going over and pressing the button.
The lift slowly rose, and there was a thumping far off sound of metal against brickwork. As the lift ascended, it grew louder.
The three of them tensed themselves half expecting the lift to be occupied. The open doors revealed nothing, yet they all remained cautious as they went inside. The doors closed and the lift begin to rise the opposite direction to that of the feeling Parvillion.
‘Let us take a deep breath and have our wits about us when walk out into further trouble.’ said the Goddess as the banging noise grew louder and louder.
As they stepped out of the lift they emerged at a three way junction of corridors. A dim light came on revealing the source of the noise. All manner of unfathomable utensils were being used on the fabric of the building. Much of the plaster on the walls had been ripped out revealing bare brickwork daubed with spells. Many of the ceiling partitions had been torn out, pipes broken and live cables hung down.
A body lay beside the second lift, the doors open and an ever growing stain on the floor revealed that an ingenious method had been found for removing its head. Intestines and other innards had been hung from the supporting framework of the partition ceiling.
That was not the worst of it. The architects of this chaos were by far the most disconcerting. Hidden in among the shadows four of them jostled to get a glimpse of the new arrivals. Six foot or more they were. Half humanoid with abdomen’s that resembled a large lobster or some such, artificially grafted on to the pale naked torso’s. Half a dozen legs sprouted underneath the crustacean like armour.
This dense armour was cast in dark shiny hues, each individual speckled with different dashes of bright colours. The tails of these casings rippled and flexed, the spindly legs allowing short bursts of fluid horizontal movement.
The armour continued upward covering most of the chest but torso’s that sat atop these bodies were the most alarming. Two long thin muscular arms reached down to the ground and a head covered in the pale moist translucent skin usually seen on maggots.
Large black eyes were set into these bald fleshy heads with mangled pointed ears poking out. The lower part of the face resembled that of a leopard seal, with black whiskers and long crystalline teeth. The creatures were wide in girth moving heavily but nimbly on their swift legs.
Their origin and culture were obscure, known simply as the Fhuritans, an ancient order of the Vicious Circle. Responsible for engineering some of the fabled Dark Cities, of which there are many legends. Sitting upon their vast mountains overlooking the deep fear chasms, memory abattoirs and truth butcheries. The first of them stepped forward, nimbly shifting in small circles refusing to settle on one spot.
‘There are many prideful Witches and Scholars who now reside in the Psyche Farms begging for death. Today we shall add to their number.’ scoffed the large youthful specimen carrying a pair of large restraining pincers.
‘Your own pride is in great need of re-evaluation.’ said the Goddess, Her tone and a stance that showing the dangerousness of their new opponents.
‘I am Scarfeleon, many a Scholar or Magi has awakened with my pincers around their throat. One day when you are chained up in your pens, eating the food from your troughs, your name and identity taken from you in exchange for a number burnt into your hides, you will remember who put you there.’ she answered, her carapace twitching with energy.
‘You will be very disappointed today Scarfeleon.’ answered Alexander, glancing briefly at the Goddess’s curious gaze, as he took his book once more from his pocket.
Alexander and the Goddess paused almost indistinctly, realising that Tawney had vanished. A searching look from Alexander in response to the Goddess’ expression conveyed that he did not know where she was. In a moment his book had been plucked from his hand by a bold pair of pincers.
‘How vexing. Are you also in possession of my flask and sandwiches, as I seem to have lost them.’ frowned the Scholar.
The culprit discarded the volume and moved aggressively towards Alexander, the Goddess pulled something from Her pockets and threw it at the creature.
‘What have you done Witch?’ protested the Fhuritan as a small grey gelatinous mass attached itself to her carapace.
The object spilt open and a eager ensemble of pale grey mites the size of cookies, rushed out seeking the weak points of its armour. Making ear splitting screams of distress, the creature departed the field of battle.
‘Bravo.’ whispered Alexander.
‘Alas, I have only one.’ admitted the Goddess, as the rest of three more of the Fhuritans emerged out of the gloom towards them.
‘Once this night is done, you will never know freedom again Witch.’ said the Arch-Phetchor of Scaldernay, threwing a barbed lasoo around the Goddess’ staff as She readied to defend Herself, and pulled it swiftly from Her hands.
‘I know you! The Auld Phetchor of Archedae, who dines on blood and bitter promises!’ exclaimed the Goddess with great anger.
‘Long it has been since Andromeda.’ he said, ‘Some of them are still alive from that day. Do you know that Witch?’
‘I demand to know what became of them?’ commanded Goddess Haylee.
‘Three times we have met and it has never gone well for you and your kindred.’ he spat at Her.
‘You will confess your crimes.’ threatened the Goddess, refusing to be intimidated by him.
‘Some have had their knowledge cut from them slice by slice until there was just a dull husk that lived simply to be aware of its suffering. Others have had the entirety of their magiks turned against them for the purpose of study, living out the long years in substantial agony. Others have had pherifie larvae placed under the skin, their souls digested until the adult pherifie emerged with all the powers and knowledge of the long dead host.’ finished the Auld Phetchor with undisguised satisfaction.
‘Long has there been a blood feud between you and I. It shall be paid tonight. Paid in full.’ yelled the Goddess and threw a ball of angry phire wasps at him with all of the strength that She had.
The creature dropped his pincers and caught this ball of fury with his two hands. Cupping his fingers around the fiery mass he contained them until their own heat grew too much for the insects themselves and the whole swarm was fused into a ball of glass. He discarded the object contemptuously on the floor.
‘Much have I learnt from the death of Witches.’ came the deep unremorseful voice of the Arch-Phetchor, ‘It is time for this to be done. I require assistance to take these two criminals into custody.’ he said and two more Fhuritan’s stepped forward, with long restraining pincers.
‘And what crime have you invented Arch-Phetchor?’ glowered the Witch of Feverahl.
‘Free will. A crime for which you are both excessively guilty. Permission is given for these two criminals to be detained.’ said the Arch-Phetchor and his two attendants swept forward.
‘Book, you will attend me.’ commanded Alexander in great alarm and the book, flew up back into his hands.
He immediately tore three pages from it and threw them at the advancing Fhuritan, which them sliced in two, leaving him very dead.
The Arch-Phetchor picked up his pincers and closed them rapidly around Alexander’s neck and lifted him off the ground and shook him until he passed out and they lay him upon the ground.
‘Subdue the Witch. No matter if she is damaged.’ he bellowed at the remaining attendent Fhuritan.
The creature launched itself at Goddess Haylee, the pincers closing around Her neck. Her hands clasped and pulled at the circular metal rims, until they broke such was the intensity of Her struggle. With a powerful incantation, She grabbed hold of the shaft of the pincers and lifted the protesting Fhuritan high above Her head and threw hoisted it through the false ceiling, impaling among the rafters with the handle of its own pincers.
The Goddess fell to Her haunches, exhausted by the effort.
‘Too soon are you spent, Witch.’ said the Arch-Phetchor approaching, taking a pair of hand manacles from the garb around his shoulders.
‘I am not done yet.’ said the Goddess, still summoning the strength to rise.
‘Get on your feet then Witch. I am happy to wait for your incarceration.’ he taunted.
‘No one’s prisoner, will I be.’ said the Goddess and painfully got to her feet, closed Her fingers in a methodical way, stretching out Her index fingers outward, bringing them together and muttered eight words of old Magick under Her breath.
The manacle grew icy cold in the Arch-Phetchors grasp and he dropped them with a yelp.
‘Parlour tricks and incantations will not prevent your capture Witch.’ he shouted and with an angry gesture threw his barbed lasso around the Goddess wrist.
‘Desist! I will not be your prisoner!’ protested the Goddess, grabbed hold of the lasso with Her free hand and pulled it from his grasp.
‘Then you will be killed.’ said the Arch-Phetchor, activating a folded trident that was part of his personal weaponry.
‘Then pray your aim is true!’ cursed the Goddess back at him.
As the Arch-Phetchor lunged forward with his trident, a shadow dropped from the rafters and landed on his back. Before he had chance to react, Tawney’s blade burst through his neck and the Arch-Phetchtor fell.
The beast made a horrible noise at he sucked in air through the gaping wound in his throat. His long spindly legs moving pointlessly as if to flee. Hands and fingers twitching open and closed. At last the Auld-Phetchor died and his struggles and noises ceased.
‘Tawney!’ yelled the Goddess as the Timerahn stood there a little dazed.
‘My sword hand is shaking Master and will not stop.’ came a croaky answer as she backed away from the dead Phetchor.
‘How did you get up in the rafters with no one seeing.’ asked Goddess Haylee taking the Timerahn’s hands and rubbing them to help her stop shaking.
‘The stealth and actions came without thinking. I shrunk into the shadows and soon I found myself nestled on a beam looking down, listening as hard as I could to every sound.’ said the Timerahn sheepishly feeling more embarrassed than brave.
‘You have killed an old enemy of Me and My kin today. There is a great warrior inside of you Tawney of the Timerahn.’ said Goddess Haylee conveying great pride in Her companion.
‘My only wish was to serve. My I ask a question Master?’ said the Timerahn as the Goddess knelt down to check upon Alexander who was unconscious on the floor.
‘Yes Tawney. Wake Alexander, for I know you are not dead.’ She said softly, touching the Scholars cheek.
‘How…how did you manage to do that?’ Tawney hesistantly said gesturing to the Fhuritan impaled in the ceiling.
‘With all of My strength and a great deal of magick.’ She answered as Alexander stirred.
‘I was practising sleeping in case I had forgotten.’ he replied sitting up painfully, ‘I see we have made quite a mess between us.’
‘Stand Scholar and do not worry about the house keeping.’ said the Goddess helping him to his feet, ‘Tawney has slain the Auld Phetchor of Archadae.’
‘I have been a guest in Archadae I have no desire to return.’ he said, grooming his beard.
‘Your book Sir.’ said Tawney retrieving it.
‘A little injured but it will mend.’ he said summoning the torn pages with a subtle wave of his hand, watching the pages return to their source then placing the book in his coat.
‘Sharpen your eyes, there is a Shabti to be found dear friends.’ said the Goddess signalling the next step in their journey.
He hadn’t been sure what to do next or where to go in the darkness. Then he sensed her, following the smell of smoke into the burning west wing of the hospital. The thick clouds scratched his eyes and burnt at his lungs. The flames reached out for him but still he continued. Even though he had no sense of where he was, he feel her. The presence of the one who had brought him into being.
He heard a conversation and instructions given. Dimly perceiving figures through the smoke, surrounded by a fiery glow. One of the Baba Yaga brushed past him and the cold steel of a weapon caught his leg as she went passed and then stopped.
‘No, do not strike. Let him through.’ said a soft woman’s voice in front of him, the Baba Yaga nodded and went on her way.
He followed the source of the light to a doorway, rested a moment and entered. The room was a swarm of fire, the very walls burning. It was hard to see her clearly through the heat and eyes kept closing at the pain of it. There was debris and unconscious bodies upon the floor, making him trip and fall. In an instant she was beside him and he was glad to hear her voice.
‘Let me guide you.’ she said helping him to his feet and letting him lay down upon a hospital examining couch, which had been been scorched and savaged by the heat.
‘You met the Witch and the Scholar then?’ she asked softly, her black straight hair brushing his face, the soft silk fabric of her long white dress touching his arm.
‘They were stronger than I imagined. Much of me is broken. I did not know where else to go.’ he said sadly, the encounter not meeting with his expectations.
‘They are powerful and experienced our enemies. Worry not for the battle, the war has already been won. There are many of us and they are so few.’ replied a soft clear, confident voice.
‘What will become of me?’ he said fearing for his own existence.
‘You have a long road ahead of you. A high mountain path that only you can walk.’ she said stroking his hair with her cold fingers.
‘I have a name now.’ he said suddenly remembering.
‘What is your name?’ she said warmly as her cold fingers stroked his brow.
‘I am Parvillion, Eater of Souls.’ he said croakily the words taking the last of his strength.
‘Then Parvillion, worry not for I have plenty souls for you to eat. I shall feed them to you one by one and restore you to health once more.’ she said as if it was the easiest thing in the world to promise.
‘Who are you?’ he said as she reached down to a young orderly upon the floor and the first morsel was torn from its protesting owner.
‘It is true what is said in whispers behind locked doors.’ she replied.
‘What is said?’ Parvillion asked, not understanding.
‘That the Widow has a daughter.’ was her reply.
‘The Widow…’ he said in a troubled voice, thinking back to the days he was a doctor.
‘Hush. I have an errand to run. Rest Parvillion.’ and then she was gone.
The Shabti had been found, one light had dimmed, another had been lit and they moved on. Behind them a white silk dress moved through the darkness they had left, followed quickly by flames that seemed drawn by the footsteps of its owner.
A new orange light fell upon the silent and still Fhuritan’s. The figure paused, looking down with some sadness, her face hidden by shadows.
‘Scarfeleon my love, it seems that we are done. What passions that we have for one another, must be ever unrequited.’ she said half in truth and half in jest.
Turning she stepped over another dead Fhuritan and walked over to the Arch-Phetchor.
‘But you Auld Butcher of Archadae, are not done. I have plans for your resurrection and ascension, you captor and killer of Witches.’ she said curled her fingers round his fleshly dead jaw and ripped the head from its body.
As she stood gazing as his expressionless countenance she heard voices in the passage opposite and listened a few moments.
‘Alas, there is no time for eavesdropping, I have things to do and newer troubles that need attending.’ she said with a smile of satisfaction and walked away unhurriedly cradling her prize.
Flames rushed in to claim the space she had occupied.
The Shabti once know as Soph-Simeon, had been pinned to the hospital door by a thulphetto thorn that had been deftly hammered through its head. Some effort had been required for its removal and recovery and the sad return to the Shabti box that had once been its home.
A light on the other side of the door had come on and the room where they stood had been swallowed by darkness. Thus they said their blessing and stepped through to find three bodies lying dead upon the hazily lit floor of the corridor, the rest of the passage lost to the dark.
‘I know them.’ said the Goddess quietly restraining Herself from rushing over to inspect the bodies.
‘Two Magi.’ said Alexander.
‘And one Scholar. All freshly slain.’ sniffed Tawney apprehensively.
‘Witches three.’ said the Goddess, ‘Lacklezella, Marada and pretty Folmiverine. There is a price for Witches blood.’ She said Her voice calm and still at odds with Her demeanour.
‘And you shall pay it.’ came a voice from the shadows, which was unpleasantly familiar.
‘You are mistaken in your intention Cal-Daverin, the dead.’ said the Goddess tapping Her and the staff She had left in the prior passage burst through the doors on a breeze of flame settling in Her hand, the wooden tip of it ablaze.
‘A petition was made to Dakan, by my entire clan. The conditions for my resurrection were very clear.’ came the voice that was acidly familiar.
‘What were they, pray tell us and we will shall discuss it amicably.’ answered Goddess Haylee, Her calm collected tone hiding Her anticipation.
‘Send them to Feverahl in a box. Do it with a blade doused with angels and witches blood and that shall finish them all.’ came the voice.
‘What blade is that?’ answered the Goddess Haylee, Her voice becoming stern.
‘This blade.’ said the Gatekeeper becoming visible as she took a stepped forward.
‘It is you who will leave in a box, foul Cal-Daverin.’ challenged the Goddess.
‘That is no longer my name.’ replied the Baba Yaga raising her sword.
‘Then confide what it is, thou killer of Witches.’ ordered the Goddess, Her voice filled with a supernatural power, Her eyes glowing as She spoke.
‘They call me “Too angry to die.”‘ the Baba Yaga yelled, a gale rising as she spoke and launched herself on, sword thrust forward racing towards the Witch of Feverahl.
In urgent anger Tawney threw herself between the two of them, the Baba Yaga in swift fury knocking her from her feet and heavily against the wall, so the Timerahn feel as if dead.
So fast she was that the blade was a foot away from the Goddess before She could react. The tip of it scratching her chest as She struck the sword away with Her staff.
Too Angry To Die turned with frightening speed, knocking off Alxander off his feet, then raising the sword and starting towards Goddess Haylee intent on dealing a second death blow. The Witch of Feverahl knocked the sword from Her assailants hand and clattering down the corridor with one powerful blow.
‘Then I will finish you with my bare hands Witch!’ screamed the Baba Yaga.
‘You will not touch Me!’ commanded the Goddess.
The Witch of Feverahl lowered Her fiery staff in the Baba Yaga’s direction. The staff shot out a burst of flame causing the former Cal-Daverin to explode in a shower of sparks, bones and burning cloth.
‘You will never harm another soul.’ said the Goddess, Her eyes ablaze, Her voice echoing all around them.
Standing with strange quiet, the Goddess touched the wound made by the sword and brought away fingers covered in blood. She faltered, stumbled and fell, letting go of Her staff which was still a flame.
‘You are poisoned. Let me move this burning staff away from you, lest you scorch your robes.’ said Alexander gravely, taking Her hand as he knelt beside Her.
‘Angel Fire has set the building alight. The staff has kept some for itself. Now I have some Angel’s Blood to match.’ She said struggling with words, ‘Phisalae attend Me quickly. Hurry or I will be dead before you get here.’
The doors behind them opened and closed letting in flames and smoke as they did so. There were footsteps as the Goddess’ invisible servant approached.
‘Ice blossom, as fast as you can fly.’ were the only words She could muster.
‘Three.’ added Alexander quickly before the servant left.
‘Four.’ countermanded the Goddess in a whisper, barely keeping Her eyes open.
‘Tawney…’ said the Goddess opening Her eyes again.
‘She is unconscious. A little bruised but she is strong. So are you.’ he said a tear in his voice.
‘It burns Alexander. It burns.’ She answered, Her pain growing.
‘Hush dear friend, do not waste your strength in words.’ he said looking over at the sword lying in front of them, it glittered darkly in the dim light.
‘Do not hush me Scholar.’ She chided with a faint laugh, ‘Our enemies are swift and full of rage.’
‘I have had a taste of it myself and it is a dish that grows no sweeter.’ he said gently.
‘I have missed your wit Scholar, never may it cease.’ She whispered and passed out.
The doors behind them banged open and banged shut as the invisible Phisalae shuffled towards them with great effort and dropped five Ice Blossoms and roll of bandages beside his Goddess.
Large pale frozen flowers shrouded in leaves of icy green, so cold they burnt the tiles of the floor.
‘Thank you Phisalae. Go and rest.’ said the Goddess as She awoke,’Hurry Alexander or they shall be upon us once more.’
The servant disappeared in a passing of a small soft breeze, as Alexander reached down to pick up the first flower. The white petals making him cry out they were so cold. He lifted the flower as if it were a great weight and placed it on the wound, causing the Goddess to make an even louder cry as it melted and dissolved.
Alexander looked at his hand to see a great burn mark there where the flower had been.
‘Again!’ hissed the Goddess in a whisper.
‘Alexander reached down hesitantly and picked up the next blossom with his other hand and placed it down as before. The pain was harder to endure a second time and both their cries a little louder.
Behind them flames had begun to consume the security doors, and smoke was leaking out through the cracks. The bitter smell filling the corridor.
‘Again Alexander, again!’ Goddess Haylee whispered urgently at him.
Alexander cupped the third blossom with both hands and dropped it with yell as the skin turned black and he could hardly move his fingers.
‘Verdamdt!’ swore the Goddess.
‘You curse like the best of them. Alas I cannot manage another, my hands are charred.’ said Alexander sadly.
‘I have had a lot of practise and a lot of cause.’ She laughed and winced with pain, ‘Still it burns. Ab’s blood is turning to Ab’s fire, using My own as fuel. I need more medicine.’ She said fighting for breath.
‘If I push the blossom’s with my foot, perhaps you can lift them. Do you think you can manage?’ he said clutching at straws.
‘I will damn well, bloody well try.’ She said in a faint burst of energy.
Alexander got up, wincing as the exertion made his hands hurt further. Gingerly using his foot, he pushed the blossom he had dropped towards Goddess Haylee’s right hand. Pulling his foot away quickly when he was done.
‘I will need a new pair of shoes when we are done.’ said Alexander.
‘I do not care about your shoes!’ said the Goddess with a painful laugh, ‘I cannot lift My head, how close are My fingers?’
‘Thank you for your concern, just a little more to your left Witch.’ he said sarcastically.
‘Oww! I think I have found it.’ she said drawing Her fingers away and then moving them back, ‘Son of a bitch!’ She said loudly as She lifted the icy flower and dropped it on the wound.
‘It’s not enough. You will have to spoil you other shoe.’ said the Goddess screwing up Her beautiful green eyes as the wound burnt with pain.
‘Alexander’s Apothecary is still open. Alas I am no cobbler.’ he said and gave the fourth flower a shove and brought it level with the Goddess’ left hand.
‘Damn your bloody shoes!’ She answered and shook Her head in a mixture of laughter and pain.
‘I don’t see you rushing to pick up this one.’ said Alexander, his second shoe as ruined as the first.
‘Hell teeth and biscuits. A minute, Alexander! A minute!’ said the Goddess losing Her temper wearily then laughing and making a groan of pain.
‘Time’s up.’ he said folding his arms and regretting it as he hurt his burnt fingers.
‘Cold!’ the Goddess said with a loud cry, lifted the flower with all Her might and dropped it on the wound and winced.
‘There, was there any need for all that fuss?’ his jokes failing to hide the worry in his voice.
‘Scholar?’ Goddess Haylee asked after resting silently for several minutes.
‘Yes?’ he answered not sure of Her tone.
‘It is not enough. I need one last flower. I cannot move never mind lift another. Can you do it?’ She asked him.
‘ I cannot, even though I want to, I can hardly open My fingers. Wait a little, your fever will break soon.’ he said trying to be positive.
‘The doors are on fire Alexander, we have no time.’ She said in an exasperated voice.
‘I had hardly noticed.’ he said shakily his head.
‘Scholar!’ sighed the Goddess, smiling.
‘Never cease they wit she says. Ten minutes on…’ he chuckled.
‘Do not make me laugh!’ She said, shook Her head and then said quietly ‘Alexander…It still burns…’ She said faintly to Her heartbroken companion.
‘Call back Phisalae.’ implored Alexander.
‘Phisalae is in his bed nursing his burnt and bloody fingers. And rightly so.’
‘Goddess at least ask him!” implored Alexander.
‘Phisalae, attend Me now…See it is no use.’ She said after the summoned servant did not arrive, ‘Do not fret, at things that cannot be undone.’ said Goddess Haylee.
‘Damn it all. Damn and damn.’ muttered Alexander.
‘Do not furrow your brow so soon Scholar, it is unbecoming.’ the Goddess looking up at him.
‘Never argue with Witches.’ he said quietly.
‘Very true. Now, shush I have things to do.’ She chided him.
‘What things?’ he asked, not understanding.
‘Listen yonder Timerahn, it is time for you to wake and do My bidding. I know you can hear Me. Even though My voice is faint and you are sleeping.’ said the Goddess with a confident authority in Her quiet voice.
‘She stirs!’ said Alexander dumbfounded.
‘It is not enough for you to stir Tawney, you must rise and serve your Master.’ continued the Goddess Her voice a little stronger.
‘She is still sleeping but she comes.’ said Alexander in awe as the Timerahn got to her feet and approached them, clearly still unconscious.
‘I have been dreaming of the forest. I see faces I once knew but their names are lost to me. They call at me from deep in the woods saying “Once there was a Witch who lived on Fell Mountain.”‘
said Tawney in a distracted monotone voice.
‘Hussssssh.’ commanded the Goddess.
‘You have been hurt?’ asked the Timerahn in the same voice.
‘Yes, I require your services. There is a pale flower on the floor beside you. Pick it up carefully. It will be cold but you must not drop it, no matter what. Place it gently down upon My wound and then you may awaken.’ said the Goddess her voice growing quiet once more.
‘Then I will scorch My Timerahn fingers and deliver it as asked.’ said Tawney stepping forward and picking up the Ice Blossom.
‘Be quick dear Tawney or I shall be gone.’ hissed the Goddess.
‘Colder than a snowflakes heart.’ said Tawney lifting up the last flower and putting it down as quickly and as carefully as she could.
‘ At last you have put the damn-ded fire out.’ said Goddess Haylee, Her fever finally breaking as She closed Her big green eyes.
‘Thank you dear Tawney. I will look through Her things and find something that will help Her heal. I swear She has more pockets than God.’ said Alexander as he reluctantly looked through Her robes, wincing as his fingers hurt.
‘She plucked me from the fire. I pray I have done the same. There look, a vial of Phellspharrow, that is for healing.’ said Tawney suddenly pointing.
‘You have sharp eyes. The very thing.’ he said reaching for it.
‘I need no thanks, for they are not my own.’ said Tawney rubbing her arms to soothe herself.
‘What are you poisoning Me with Scholar?’ said the Goddess as Alexander pressed the vial against her lips.
‘Merely a spoonful of your own medicine.’ he answered as the liquid went down.
‘It better be, or I will ruin more than your shoes.’ She said and went back to sleep.
‘You have quite a wit of your own my dear Witch friend’ he said quietly, returning the small bottle to where it had come.
Tawney was instructed to bind their hands with the bandages Phisalae had provided.
‘Phisalae had good sense.’ said Alexander pulling faces as the bandages went on.
‘Yes he did…I was collecting Ty-ger roots when I found him wandering. I have some Ty-ger balm in My bag.’ said the Goddess sitting up and searching through Her things, ‘There Tawney, your will apply it. Hurry those doors are ablaze and soon the flames will be in here. Alexander can attend to them and you will help Me on My feet.’
‘Yes Master, I will be as swift as I can.’ said Tawney attending to her tasks.
‘Let me open my book.’ said Alexander picking up his cane, retrieving his fallen hat, then searching his pockets for his book. and then
He walked over to the door, the pages of his book turning by themselves once more. The pages at last stopped and so he began ‘”Stop door, let the burning cease. Keep us from harm and keep us from geese!”‘ he said with a flourish.
The leaking smoke and flames snuffed themselves out and the doorway began to brick itself up and give itself a coat of paint into the bargain.
‘Goose magick, all the way from Bartholemew Fayre. They were summers to beat all summers.’ said an ebullient Goddess Haylee now back on Her feet. ‘The Witch of Wandsworth taught us many an old spell and sold us some good books then.’
‘You are in fine fettle. There is even a smile.’ said Alexander warm heartedly.
‘Ice Blossom, Phellsparrow and the aid of three good friends, have helped restore My strength and My humour.’ said the Goddess, ‘Timerahn, fetch My staff and My sword.’ she instructed.
Tawney was quickly by Her side placing the staff in Her hand.
‘The Ab Fire still burns.’ said Alexander looking up at it.
‘The staff has seized it in perpetuity and will not give it up. I in turn will not give up this blade.’ said the Goddess taking the blade that had struck her from Tawney’s hands.
‘A Witch never had two weapons of that power afore.’ said Alexander as the Goddess created a scabbard for the sword and hung it across her back in the style of ancient warriors.
‘They will be needed in the dark years that lie ahead of us.’ said the Goddess sombrely, ‘Come let us say a blessing these three fallen Witches.’
Bidding them to stand in a circle and hold hands She recited slowly and rhythmically ‘Sleep long amongst the fallen and sleep thee well. Among the songs and stories they can no longer tell.’ said the Goddess.
‘There, look in amongst them.’ said Tawney with her sharp eyes.
‘A Shabti.’ said the Goddess.
‘It is Timreck, a rapscallion of no small reputation. Wise crafty and cunning, and sublimely suited to my service. And it is only Death he could not bargain with or slip a coin to avert the moment.’ said Alexander picking up the defaced statuette and squirreling it away.
The lights in the corridor when out and at the end of the hallway became dimly illuminated revealing a circular balcony, the air full of foreboding.
As they approached it, it became clear the large wide half lit circle surrounded a lower level that was shrouded in dark. Above their heads was a large unlit marble ceiling following the shape of the roof, these stone rafters surrounded by more shadows.
All around the circular balcony were office doors, culminating in a set of double doors opposite where they now stood. For once the entire hospital had become silent, they stood looking around them and it was several minutes before any of them spoke.
‘This is where it happened. This is where we killed a king.’ said Alexander.
‘Then we three shall be on our guard.’ said the Goddess Her restored to its full strength, ‘Oleander, Cutlass and Rayne!’ cried the Goddess and banged Her staff loudly upon the wooden floorboards of the balcony.
In from the darkened corridor behind them flew three greylag geese. Landing with great commotion, squawking and bobbing their heads left and right.
‘Master?!’ said Tawney shocked by Her actions.
‘Fear not Tawney, they will do us no harm. Best keep your fingers from near their beaks though.’ said the Goddess with a wry smile.
‘Goose magick is old, rarely used or contradicted.’ said Alexander smiling because the Goddess had subverted the spell he had cast earlier.
‘Rarely used because it has been forgotten and so rarely beaten. These are part of the Witch of Wandsworth’s flock. She is passed now, alas I only know three of their names.’ said the Goddess proudly looking at the new arrivals, ‘Now clear the way.’ She said letting the bobbing greylag geese through.
The three birds split up, squawking excitedly as they examined each of the doors along the balcony, making affirmatives noise to indicate that each door in turn was locked and there was no hint of tampering.
‘We do not have geese on my world.’ said Tawney uncertainly.
‘ They have an ancient and sacred history. They were used as guard dogs in ancient times. They are adept at sounding the alarm in times of trouble. Fitting as our enemies are about to play their hand. The air is thick with it.’ said the Goddess looking up at the darkened shadowy ceiling and then at the black lower level below.
‘Yes.’ said Alexander nodding, ‘I sense it all around us’
‘I smell them, they are close.’ said the Timerahn, her sword in hand.
‘Let us follow yonder Rayne, who has gone round that side on her own.’ said the Goddess gesturing to the lone goose on the left, Her mind alert for the slightest movement or sound.
They had passed barely a few of the offices when a door opened and closed in the pitch darkness below them, causing the geese to become calamitous.
‘There is something down there waiting in the dark.’ said Goddess Haylee raising Her hand to silence the geese, ‘Speak thou, who moves in the darkness.’ the Witch of Feverahl called over the balcony.
‘And what would you have me say?’ came a female voice back up at Her.
‘Tell Me your name.’ commanded the Goddess disliking the tone of the reply.
‘My name is Suzatka. We hae not met. Though there are times I have been a seagull sat high above a lamp post spying on thee, or a leaf blowing down the curb as you walked past. Not today Witch, today I look at you from My place in the dark.’
‘I have not heard your name before spy.’ said the Goddess.
‘You will not forget it Witch.’ came the voice back from the darkness.
‘You will never spy on Me again.’ said the Goddess as the antagonism between them grew more apparent.
‘I promise to do many things that you will like even less. Is he there Witch? The freshly decanted Scholar with his beard and his damned books?’ said the voice with a great deal of displeasure.
‘I am here Suzatka of the dark.’ said Alexander stepping forward.
‘A bargain was made for the life of your fallen comrade, the one called Mortimer.’ said the voice loudly and with much anger, ‘No such bargain will be made for you. All we want from you is your library and your head.’ said Suzatka in such a tone that caused the geese to shriek, and Rayne to take flight over the circle of darkness and land beside her fellows with a loud amount of fuss.
‘Keep your threats to yourself Suzatka of the Darkness.’ said the Goddess glowering into the shadows.
‘You should collect your geese and return to Feverahl Witch.’ called Suzatka back at her.
‘No Suzatka, I will not.’ replied Goddess Haylee in a great voice that made the doors and windows rattle.
‘Then suffer well.’ said Suzatka turning back the way she had come and slamming the door behind her.
The sound caused the all the windows and doors of the balcony to burst open with flames, throwing broken glass everywhere. The balcony itself began to catch light. The only exit that was not ablaze was the set of double doors on the far side. The geese made a grand noise at it all and instead of traipsing through broken glass they took flight, circling the balcony three times then coming to roost by the doors.
‘It is time to go!’ yelled Goddess Haylee, banging Her staff on the wooden floorboards.
With a softly spoken spell She lifted them high in the air and brought them down by the three geese. She was about to lead them through when She sensed something and stopped.
There on the ground beside was the last of the Shabti, in a pile of a dozen or more. Each one defaced or defiled, all scattered in a haphazard way.
‘No!’ breathed Alexander, his face full of hurt.
‘Sweep them quickly up, we have no time for tears and speeches!’ said the Goddess urgently as he bent over, swiftly gathered them about him and crammed them into his pockets.
When all was done, they turned to go as the lights when out. There was a loud hue and cry from the geese and a dozen Baba Yaga burst through the doors. Scattering the birds asunder and casting the three companions over the balcony, into the darkness.
End of Part Four
All fictional Characters and related plots (c) Princess Indigo
Many thanks for reading “The House On Gordon Square Part Four”.