Charles Crowley whistled as he locked up his bookstore. It was quite late, almost midnight, but the streets were well lit with street lights, so he didn't mind the walk to his car. Normally he did. He worried about muggers a great deal on nights like this. He was always worried about something or another, but was used to it, and if there was nothing to worry about, he often got suspicious. You can never be too careful was his motto and he stuck by it. Checking the lock to his store by rattling the door, he found it to be, indeed, locked, and so he set out to his car.
The parking lot was only a one or two minute walk from the store, but there were several alleyways along the way that looked quite creepy in the dark of night; it was these that Charles worried most about. Surprisingly, for this time of night, there were quite a few people about. The late movie had just let out, and the movie patrons were all heading to the parking lot as he was, so he felt at ease.
Suddenly, as he passed one of the alleys, he heard a muffled scream. Startled, he peered into the alleyway, but all he could see was darkness. He heard the muffled yell again, and the sound of garbage cans being knocked over. "Do you hear that?" he asked a young man walking by.
"Hear what?" the man asked, stopping for a second then continuing on his way. Charles was very upset. There was more screams, and this time, a nasty laugh. Charles couldn't decide what to do. He knew it was very dangerous to try and stop the fight that was going on, but at the same time, it might be too late, if he were to go and call the police. Finally, some inner voice told him to go into the alley, and with a curse to himself, he decided that he should stop the fight.
He briskly walked into the alley, knowing that what he was doing was stupid, and that he was likely to get hurt, or worse. As he went further into the alley, it got lighter, and he could soon make out a strange scene.
It was definitely a woman he had heard. She lay on the ground, moaning, while a tall man dressed entirely in black stood over her. His back was to Charles, and he had not heard him coming, since he bent down and picked up the woman by the neck of her leather jacket.
"It seems that you were wrong after all, Raven," he growled. She scowled at him, and in response, he threw her against the wall of the alley. She hit the wall, and fell, landing on the pavement with a dull thud. She lay still.
The man stood up. He extended his right hand, and Charles gasped as a sword appeared in his hand. Although not suddenly; it was more like the reverse of a cheshire cat: the sword gradually appeared. The man heard Charles' gasp and whirled.
"Who are you?" he snarled. Charles stammered, and took a step backward. This was obviously not an ordinary fight. The man suddenly laughed, raising his sword. "You are a mortal, are you? You foolish mortal, you can be the first to die tonight!"
Charles Crowley was a cautious man by nature. He was also very thoughtful, and liked to think every action through before he carried it out. However, at the first sign of the sword, he panicked, and that probably saved his life. For now he reacted with instinct, and instinctual reactions were much faster than conscious ones. He grabbed a lid off a garbage can, and threw it toward the man. It hit him in the stomach, and he doubled over. The moment he did, Charles rushed in, and kicked him in the head. The man dropped to the ground, not making any sound. Charles then ran over to the woman, who was gradually coming around. He propped up her head, and quickly looked her over. She wasn't seriously hurt, as far as he could tell. Just a few bruises, but he wasn't qualified to tell for sure.
Her eyes blinked open. She looked around wildly. "It's okay," Charles said gently. She looked at him strangely.
"Who...?" she mumbled.
"I'm not sure who that was, but I think that he's out cold now," Charles said.
"Wrong, human!" Charles felt a strong grip on his shoulder that picked him up, spun him around, and slammed him into the wall. He dropped to the ground, completely stunned. The man picked him up by the collar, hauling him off the ground, and staring at him.
"How can you see me?" the man demanded. Charles just opened his mouth, then closed it. He couldn't think of anything to say.
"Put him down," came a voice behind Charles. He realised that it must be the woman. The man threw Charles again, but Charles managed to roll when he landed, and wasn't hurt this time.
The woman was standing up now, holding her waist with her right hand, and her left hand was curled into a fist. It was glowing. She suddenly outstretched her left hand, now open to toward the man, and the man was hurled and pinned against the opposite wall. The woman winced, but pulled herself together and the man suddenly yelled in pain. He was beginning to give off a strange glow like the woman's hand, but nothing else seemed to be happening. The woman had started trembling, and her knees looked as if they would give out any moment. Charles got up, and held her up. The moment he touched her, the glow increased around her hand and the man. Abruptly the man disappeared in a shower of sparks.
The woman sagged against Charles, having fainted. Charles let her down softly, then realised that he had better get her to a hospital and quickly. He picked her up, gently, and rushed out of the alley. I might as well just take her there myself, he thought. He reached the car in a matter of moments. He unlocked the front door, and propped her up in the front seat. He got the blanket from the back, and covered her up in it.
It was when he was arranging the blanket around her that he happened to look up into the rear-view mirror.
She had no reflection.
He dropped the end of the blanket he was holding. He was completely confused. He was no hallucinating; she was right there in front of him. He could see her, touch her, he could even smell the blood. It seemed very, very real to him, but on the other hand, no reflection...? It didn't make any sense. But then neither did what happened in the alleyway. He tucked the blanket around her, and got into the drivers seat. He would take her home, and try to get her cleaned up.
He couldn't take her to the hospital. No one would be able to see her.
The drive home was uneventful. Charles became completely paranoid, on one hand fearing that what-ever-it-was that attacked the woman [his brain had finally been able to accept the concept not human] would catch up with them, as well he feared that for some odd reason the police would decide to pull him over and start questioning him about the wounded, bloody woman in his car.
And he'd have no answers for them, because he knew nothing about her...when it occurred to him that the police fear was completely unrealistic--they wouldn't even be able to see the woman, let alone see that she was bleeding all over his car.
At last they reached his apartment, and he staggered up the stairs with her. She was extremely heavy for an illusion; but Charles had no choice. He had decided not to take the elevator for fear of people seeing her, then realised, on the third floor, that nobody could anyway.
He finally staggered into his apartment about half-past one, and put the woman on the couch, still wrapped in the car blanket. He was completely exhausted. Charles hadn't realised how out of shape he was; there was nothing like carrying a full-grown woman up five flights of stairs to make you appreciate a trip to the gym once in a while.
He checked over the woman's wounds again, and was astonished to find that they were almost entirely healed! With a good nights rest, she'd most likely be as good as new. With that comforting thought in mind, he pulled up the arm chair, snuggled in, and went to sleep.
The next morning, he woke up to find the woman still on his couch, sleeping peacefully. He'd begun to think that it was a dream, but it appeared to be reality. He checked his watch: it was 6.30 am, which meant he'd gotten about six hours of sleep, which was a not a lot for him. He'd be able to make do, he was sure. He crept to the kitchen, not wanting to wake the woman up, but wanting some coffee to get him going. Luckily today was Sunday, so he wouldn't have to go to work. So much for small blessings.
He poured the water into the kettle, and got out a cup and sugar. He didn't like milk in his coffee, but he definitely still liked sugar. It was as he was putting the sugar jar back in the cupboard, he noticed a movement coming from the front hall.
Charles' apartment was not large. It had a bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom, and three tiny closets. Then there was the front hall/living room. The couch and chairs were at one end of the front hall/living room, and the door was at the other. The movement was near the door, but a quick look confirmed that the woman was still sleeping on the couch.
There was someone sneaking around his apartment.
Instantly Charles was on full red alert. Grabbing a frying pan from one of the cupboards, he stealthily crept around the corner to see who it was.
And came face to face with two snarling demons.
They were tall, a foot higher than Charles himself was, and he was no shrimp. They were a dark olive brown, with splashes of black. They had long claws, which Charles soon found himself acquainted with as they raked across his chest. He managed to leap back and deflect the next blow with the frying pan. The demons narrowed their glowing yellow eyes, and growled, showing huge pointy teeth, which were also a nasty shade of yellow. Charles gulped, but stood his ground, brandishing the pan in what he hoped was a threatening manner. The demons, however, did not seem impressed.
One of them suddenly turned away from Charles, and roared in the direction of the couch. That's when Charles realised that they weren't after him, but after the strange woman. The demon bounded over to the couch. Charles yelled, and threw the frying pan. It managed to hit the demon, bouncing off its head, and clanging to the floor. The demon whirled, howling in pain, rubbing its head with a clawed hand, and then gave Charles a funny look, as it shook its head and fell over, unconscious.
That's when Charles realised that the other demon was breathing down his neck. He yelled, and ran. The demon chased him, into the kitchen, where he was soon backed into a corner. Charles grabbed one of the kitchen table chairs, and tried to fend the demon off with it. The demon roared and tried to swipe at Charles with its claws, but the chair managed to keep them from making contact.
Suddenly there was a bright shower of sparks and a flash of light. The demon howled and whirled, screaming in pain. There was another flash of light, and Charles could now see the young woman, who was standing up behind the couch. There was yet another flash of light, and the demon screamed again.
The woman wavered. She still wasn't up to strength, Charles thought. I've got to help her somehow. He threw the chair at the monster's head. It crashed into the beast, dropping it to the floor. Charles leapt over it and ran to the woman's side. She held out her hand to him. Confused, he took it. Then he remembered the night before. She raised her hand out toward the demon, who was getting up slowly. Her hand glowed with the same energy as before, and the demon snarled. The woman closed her eyes, and the demon gave a final scream as it vanished completely.
Charles smiled in relief, but then jumped a foot when he heard another roar. The first monster had finally recovered from its blow to the head, and was looking for a rematch. The woman, non-plussed, merely turned towards it and held out her hand to Charles. The minute he grasped it again, the demon yelled, and disappeared from the Crowley apartment.
He let go of the strange woman's hand, and she sagged immediately. He caught her, and very gently sat her in one of his unbroken kitchen chairs. He got the blanket front the couch, and wrapped it around her shoulders. He was about to say something when the kettle whistle blew.
"Would you like some coffee?" he asked. She regarded him with a moment of suspicion, then nodded. "What do you take in it?" he inquired politely.
"Black," she replied, staring at her hands in her lap. He nodded and fetched another mug from the cupboard. He filled it half full with the hot liquid, and put it down on the table (using a coaster; he was very careful about that) next to her. He then filled his own cup, and pulled up the last remaining chair for himself. They sat for a moment, not saying anything. Charles sipped his coffee quietly while looking out the window. The woman just stared at the mug that she held in her hands.
"I suppose you would like some answers," she said after a moment. Charles looked at her, but didn't say anything. "There are few mortals that can just let something like this go," she continued.
"But then, there are few mortals who get attacked by demons in their kitchens at six-thirty on a Sunday morning," Charles said, taking a sip.
That was when she held up her head to look at him directly. "You aren't supposed to be able to see them," she said.
"Am I supposed to see you too?"
"Then maybe they're part and parcel," he said, taking another sip.
"No mortals are supposed to have the second sight," she said. "Only the Dwellers are allowed to have it." She sighed. "I don't know if I should even be telling you this."
"Why, because I'm a mortal?" Charles asked. The woman nodded.
"I take it, then, that you are an immortal?" he continued. That question brought a bit of colour to the woman's cheeks as she realised just how much she had told him with out meaning to.
She sighed again. "You have helped me this far, so I suppose I will tell you what you need to know. " Charles nodded, and pulled his chair in closer. The woman held up a warning finger. "But I am only doing this because you have the second sight and because you helped me. So don't think that I owe you anything."
"I don't," said Charles, blinking in surprise. The idea hadn't even formed in his mind. Then he remembered that he hadn't introduced himself. He held out his hand awkwardly. "My name is Charles Crowley," he said. The woman looked at his hand, but didn't shake it. She nodded once, then started to tell her story.
"My name is Raven. My people are--and always have been--at war with the creatures of the Other Levels, who are more or less demons, to you mortals. My people have magical powers to help us in our fights, and we cannot be seen by mortals. Supposedly. The only ones besides ourselves who can see us are the Others." she finished. "Mortals shouldn't have the second sight."
Charles laughed. "Maybe I was abandoned as a child on Earth, but was really from...Another World."
"This is not funny, mortal," Raven said, looking at him in anger. "We have to get this sorted out. For a mortal to know of the Realm and of the Other Levels... I will have to consult with Rahme and Lelia, our leaders."
"Would you like to use the telephone?" Charles said, bemused. Raven merely glared. Then closed her eyes, leaned back in her chair, and took hold of a amulet she wore around her neck, that was shaped like a small bird.
Charles took the time to study his house guest. She was a tall, fair woman, with masses of blond hair. She wore a pair of blue jeans and a black shirt under a leather jacket. Strangely, she wore only one leather glove on her left hand, and Charles decided to put her down as a Michael Jackson fan.
Suddenly, she opened her eyes. To complete his mental inventory, he noted her vivid green eyes.
"They want to meet you." she said suddenly.
"Meet me? Really?" said Charles, a bit incredulous.
"Yes. It seems that you are the only mortal that they have come across that has the second sight. They need to test your abilities." Raven replied. She set down her mug on the table. Charles very carefully picked it up and placed it on the coaster. (He was always very careful about stuff like that.) Raven herself didn't seem to take any notice.
"Why would they need to test me?" Charles asked. Raven stared at him as if he was an idiot.
"To see if you are good enough to fight with us, of course," she said with the attitude of one talking to a complete moron. "You have abilities that could help us greatly."
"Help us greatly with what?" Charles said, exasperated. "You have hardly told me anything."
Raven sighed and rolled her eyes. "Help us fight the Others. The demons. They're running around your realm, and only we can stop them."
"Oh." Charles wasn't quite sure how to respond to all of this. It had started out a normal day just twenty-four hours ago, and now he was being asked to join a band of supernatural immortal people fighting demons that no one else could see. He put his head in his hands.
Suddenly there was an explosion of light, and Charles looked up with alarm as a great glowing circle appeared on the middle of his wall.
"That would be her now," Raven said calmly. Charles stared in complete astonishment as a figure crawled out of the circle as if it was a tunnel. It turned out to be a young girl, only about fifteen years old, dressed in what reminded Charles of a Robin Hood costume; a dark green tunic over dark green tights with leather boots and, finally, a bow. Complete with a quiver of arrows slung over her back.
The girl returned Charles' stare. "What, you never seen someone use a magical gateway before?"
Charles shook his head.
"Oh, right, you must be the mortal. Nice to meet you there, Charlie." The girl shook Charles' hand. "Name's Aisha."
"I'm Charles Crowley," Charles said.
"Oh, I know you are, Chuck. We know all about you now. Did a background check. Wouldn't have been professional without it, y'know? Anyway, Raven, Rahme's found some news you might find interesting."
"What's that?" asked Raven.
"The Diviner's sword is going to be in town for a few days." Aisha said simply. The words meant nothing to Charles, but the effect they had on Raven was startling. She sat up, and grinned at Aisha.
"The museum. It's being brought in as an exhibit. It was found last week."
"By the Power--" Raven breathed, grinning. "I've been looking for the Diviner's sword for ages! I'll leave at once!" She jumped up, and took off the blanket she had wrapped around her, dumping it on the chair.
"One thing though, Raves, before you leave," Aisha said, holding out a hand to stop Raven. "The powers that be have decided that Chuckster here is going to be joining us. So you've got to cut his teeth on this trip, 'kay?"
"What? But why with me?" Raven was astonished. She stared at Aisha, who shrugged.
"It can't be helped. You're not up to full strength anyway, y'know. He'll help you with that."
Raven looked over at Charles, who was fidgeting on his chair. "Uh, can I say something?" he asked.
"Sure, go ahead, Charlie," Aisha replied.
"Uh..first, it's Charles. And second, no one has asked me what I want to do."
"That's right, Chuck, because you've got no say." Aisha said brightly. "What the powers want, the powers get. It's fate, Chuck. And you don't want to mess with Fate. She's a real bitch sometimes." Charles sighed. Aisha checked a watch on her wrist, that somehow managed to go with her outfit. "Well, kids, I gotta get going, so I'll leave you to start packing there, Chaz." Aisha waved, then crawled into the gateway\circle and disappeared.
Raven rubbed her hands together. "Do you have any good fighting clothes?"
"You mean stuff I don't get mind getting dirty?"
"You must have something," Raven insisted. Charles shook his head.
"I don't go camping, I don't go on hikes, I do absolutely nothing that would require me to a) get dirty or b) get hurt."
Raven looked thoughtful. "Do you have some jeans?"
"Yes. Those I do have." Charles was wishing he'd stayed home sick the day before. Raven nodded.
"Well, It's a start. I can use some of my magic to get you a leather jacket."
Charles looked pained. "Do I really need a leather jacket?"
"Yep. Why, don't you want one?"
"No. I'm not really the type for leather jackets." he said quietly. Raven laughed.
"It's not for fashion. It's because if we get into a fight, it hurts a lot less when you're wearing a leather jacket."
Raven got up, and left the kitchen. Charles realised she was now in his bedroom, and from the sound of it, going through his closet. He ran in to find her checking all of his shirts. He looked at her quizzically.
"Just checking what shirt size you are," she said. "Okay, I think I can come up with a good fit."
She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and held her palms towards each other. The faint glow appeared, and Charles noticed for the first time how when she was preforming a spell her middle and ring fingers stayed together, but her index and little finger remained at separated. It was very intriguing to him, and because of that, he didn't realise until she was done that a brand new leather jacket had materialised around him.
"There," she said.
"Thanks," he replied, taking the jacket off and looking at it.
"It's no problem. But we had better get going." she said, walking back out into the living room. Charles hurried after her.
"What exactly are we doing?"
"We're going to break into the museum to get the Diviner's sword," Raven replied matter-of-factly. "It's a very useful instrument. It can detect entrances to the Other Levels."
Charles nodded, pretending he understood. Raven adjusted her jacket and held out her hand. "Ready?" she asked.
Charles took a deep breath. "Yes, I guess so," he said.
"Good." She took his hand and pulled him into the tunnel.
The last thing he thought as he left his apartment was what his neighbours would think about him having a magical gateway on his wall, and him leaving a sinkfull of dirty dishes.
Charles expected the trip through the "magical gateway" to be something mystical and full of light. What it was actually like was being shoved through a door. There was no journey, no light; one second he was in his apartment and the next he was on the roof of a building.
It was also pitch black out. "Why is it so dark all of a sudden?" he asked Raven, who was peering over the side of the building.
"Because it's eleven at night," she replied. Charles was confused.
"But it was only around seven," he said, perplexed.
"When we left, yes. But I needed to get to the building when they are unloading the sword, and that is\will be eleven pm next Thursday."
"Thursday!" Charles exclaimed.
"Ssh. Be quiet. I need to check this out." Raven said, looking over the edge. She dropped to her knees, and Charles followed her example. He looked over the edge to see the back of the city's museum, surrounded with people. There was a truck parked below, and people were taking crates out and taking them into the building. Suddenly Charles spotted someone he knew.
"That's Alison Yates!" he whispered excitedly. "She's a writer, quite rich, and she often visited my bookstore."
"She's one." Raven replied, not offering anything else.
"One of the Others." Raven said exasperatedly.
"She's a--demon? But that can't be right! She's a, a semi-charming woman, at least. I've met her several times."
"Doesn't change anything. The Others are masters of disguise; you'd be surprised how many popes were of the other level."
"You're kidding!" Charles burst out. He couldn't believe his ears. Raven shook her head.
"They go after positions of power. Rich is definitely powerful."
"Was Hitler one?" he asked after a moment.
"Nope. He was a screw-up of your species." she said.
Charles was silent after that. He wasn't quite sure how to absorb all this new information. Rich and powerful people couldn't be trusted; leaders of any sorts were under suspicion, even religious ones. He stared down at Mrs. Yates, who was looking quite nervous. She was chain-smoking, and yelling at the workers around her. A man, standing in the shadows, suddenly came out of nowhere, and ordered the workers to turn on the bright lights.
"Duck!" hissed Raven, jerking Charles' head down. "He might be on to us. You can never be too careful with him."
"Who, Mr. Yates?" Charles asked.
"That's not Mr. Yates! Mr. Yates is a frail old idiot who has no idea what his wife is really like. That's Phillipe LaPierre! He's one of the big leaguers. A really powerful Other. And if he's involved, then they know something must be going on." Raven said under her breath.
Suddenly, there was shouting, and the sound of feet running up the metal fire escape. Raven swore, then gestured with her glowing hand over the ground next to Charles. "Roll over!" she hissed. Startled, Charles obeyed, and he promptly fell through one of her infamous gateways.
He yelped as he hit a hard marble floor. He yelped louder when Raven landed on him.
"What was that all about?" he demanded. Raven glared at him.
"I was just saving your life," she said. "If LaPierre had found you, you would have been dead. Dead, or brainwashed and working for the Others."
"An explanation before hand might be nice next time," he said irritably.
"Fine," she said, running a hand through her hair to get it out of her face. She got up off the floor, and looked around her surroundings.
"Where are we?" Charles asked, getting up and dusting himself off.
"The museum. Specifically, the sword room. This is where we'll be waiting for them. I backed us up about ten minutes, so we've got about twenty minutes to prepare."
"Prepare what?" Charles asked. "Can you please tell me what is going on?"
"Look, the Diviner's sword is a powerful weapon, but it has been lost for over seven centuries. We need to find it again, to help in the fight. Phillipe LaPierre must suspect that we want it, even though, to him, it is disguised and just looks like an ordinary--well, not ordinary, but usual--sword of the medieval era. Okay?"
"I guess." Charles said slowly.
"Good. Now, what happened on the roof is that Phillipe must have suspected we were there, and turned on the lights to see us better."
Now here Charles was a bit confused, although he was becoming more enlightened as far as their general mission went.
"Aren't demons supposed to be afraid of light? Being evil and all?" he asked.
Raven was inspecting the top of a cupboard that contained several sabres. She tested the top, then jumped up. "Come on up," she said, offering him her hand. He took it, and scrambled up. They perched on the top of the cabinet. She did some magic, waving her hands around them. "Now we'll blend into the wall." she said. "And for your first question, no. They aren't afraid of light. They hate water like nothing else, but not light."
"Oh." Charles sat with his back to the wall, hugging his knees to his chest. "So all we have to do is get the sword?"
Raven laughed. "All, he says. Maybe I forgot to mention it, but Phillipe is one of the strongest Others there is. And he has his entourage for us to deal with as well. I won't lie: this won't be easy."
Charles felt a sinking suspicion in his stomach. He gripped his knees tighter. "Why didn't you just go back in time to get the sword when it was first lost?"
"Well, we can actually only go back\forward in time for the length of a week." Raven admitted. "Plus, it wasn't lost, per se; some misguided warrior put the spell on it and then hid it. Then the fool got himself killed."
"Killed?" asked Charles, shifting around slightly. "But I thought you were immortal?"
"We're protected by magic, so that we don't grow old, or get sick--but we can be wounded by the others. I certainly was." Raven said with a bit of a laugh.
Suddenly, the door to the room creaked. The two froze, as Phillipe, Yates, and another tall man walked in. Phillipe was the one in the room first. He looked around the room, then flicked on the lights. For a moment he stared straight at Charles, and Charles was sure that he had seen them, but then Phillipe turned away. The tall man was carrying a crate, and to Charles he looked to be an exact duplicate of the man who attacked Raven in the alley.
"Put it down," Phillipe ordered in a thick French accent. "On the table. Good. Now open it."
Yates was fidgeting by Phillipe's side. "Can we get this over with? I don't like waiting around with that witch somewhere on the premises."
Beside him, Charles could feel Raven bristle, but wisely, not move.
Phillipe patted her arm gently, smiling. "It will soon be all over, mon cheri. We will not wait too long; she will come to us. We have what she wants. Ah, Henri, have you got it open?"
The tall man grunted in response. He pried the lid of the crate, and Phillipe began pulling out handfuls of packing paper, throwing them on the floor.
"Ah!" he exclaimed. "Here it is!" He pulled out a long broadsword. "This is it?" he said disgustedly. "Why all this fuss over nothing?"
"I told you," Yates piped up. "It's just a sword. Some old German guy found it in a castle dungeon. They were cleaning them up to show to tourists, actually." She laughed, a really annoying nasal sound. Charles suddenly remembered how much he disliked her, especially when she showed up at his bookstore.
"Well, somebody wants it for whatever reason." Phillipe said, making a few showy gestures with it. A few thrusts, a parry, but then he tired of it and laid it on the table. He turned his back to the cabinet to whisper something to Henry, and Raven seized the moment to crouch at the lip of cupboard. She waved Charles over, and he realised she was going to make a leap for the sword. He nodded, and tensed.
Raven took a deep breath, and leapt off the cabinet, while yelling at the top of her lungs. The disguise spell vanished the minute she left the top.
Yates was startled and froze, but Phillipe's reaction was faster. He grabbed the sword just before Raven got it, and he waved it in her face. She backed up, and seeing that Yates was recovering from her shock, as well as Henri starting towards Raven, Charles decided to press his advantage.
Jumping off the cupboard with the most enthusiastic yell he could muster (but still far from Raven's bloodcurdling howl) he managed to land on Yates, pulling her down. She screamed, and her head hit the edge of the table. She lay still, with out so much as a groan, and for a brief moment, Charles wondered if he'd killed her. Then his attention was momentarily disrupted as he was picked up by Henri, and thrown across the room. He landed with a thud against the wall, slid down, and groaned.
Raven was standing in front of the wall, tensed, and ready for the fight. Phillipe and his goon stood between her, Charles and the door.
"You are getting feeble," Phillipe said with an evil smile. He twirled the sword around. "First, you think that I can be fooled by your pathetic attempt at a hiding spell. I saw you and the mortal the moment I walked in. And don't think I am ignorant of the truth about this sword."
He gave the sword a vigorous shake, and the spell literally shattered, revealing a silver sword, with curving silver snakes that formed a circle around the handle. It also had a large red gemstone in the center of the blade's tip, in a hole that fitted the gem perfectly.
"But the most insulting thing, my dear Raven," he continued, waving the sword to show it off, "Is that you think a mortal is a match for me. You should know better. Even your leader, Rahme, was no match for me. And you are still weak from being wounded by Andre. Who, by the way, was a good friend of Henri here, and he is most anxious to settle some debts."
Henri grinned maliciously, then started in on Raven.
Meanwhile, Charles shook his head, trying to get the mental cobwebs to clear, but everything was fuzzy. He could see Raven at the other the end of the room, with Phillipe and his goon standing in front of her. Right in front of Charles was the table, and Mrs. Yates limp form, lying on the mound of paper Phillipe had pulled out.
I have to help Raven, he thought. He knew he was no match for either Phillipe or Henri, but maybe he and Raven could take them on together...
He started to crawl forward on his hands, slowly and quietly, but suddenly he put his hand down on something red hot. He jerked his hand up immediately, stuffing the burnt fingers into his mouth to keep from screaming. It was Mrs. Yates' cigarette, thrown away when he hit her.
And an idea began to form in Charles head. He grabbed the still glowing cigarette, and a handful of the paper, pressing them together and praying with all his might that he would go unnoticed.
And so far he was. Raven managed to dodge Henri for a few moments, but in the confined space of the museum room, there was not far that she could run.
Phillipe sighed, obviously losing interest in the game that Henri insisted on playing.
"Just kill her, Henri. We have more important things to do," he said, with a slight roll of his eyes. Henri nodded, but before he could react, they both heard a small rustling in the back of the room. Phillipe whirled, but kept the sword trained on Raven.
"What in hell are you doing?" he said. All he could see was Charles hunched over a handful of papers, frantically trying to get a fire going with the end of Yates' cigarette.
Phillipe snorted. Charles had just barely managed to get a small flame going, which steadily grew. "Did your mentor here teach you nothing, you foolish mortal? We are not afraid of fire!"
"Oh, I know that," Charles said, feeding the fire more paper. There was now a proper flame, cheerfully blazing on the floor. Charles picked it up, switching it from hand to hand quickly.
Phillipe snorted in disgust. "Kill the idiot," he said to Henri. Henri started forward, when Charles started waving the fire over his head, showing sparks.
"I'm not as dumb as you think I am!" he yelled. "I do know what you're afraid of!"
Just as he said that, a series of small beeps began going off. Then the fire alarm sounded, and the museum sprinkler system turned on full blast.
Phillipe screamed as the water hit him. He began frantically waving the sword over his head in an instinctive [although stupid] attempt to shield himself. Henri merely held his hands over his head, yelling his head off.
"Turn it off!" screamed Phillipe waving his sword at, alternately, Charles and Raven.
"I can't," said Charles mock-apologetically. Raven's response was less verbal. She ran up to him, and punched him in the face. He tried to slash her with the Diviner's sword as he held one hand to his bleeding nose, but she ducked it easily, then kneed him in the stomach. He tossed the sword across the room. As Raven's head turned to see where it landed, he decked her across the jaw. She staggered back a step, then slipped on the wet floor, and fell down with a splash.
The room was quite wet at this point, and Henri was trying frantically to shelter himself under a closet when Phillipe screamed at him: "Get going, you idiot!" Phillipe himself disappeared in a flash of light, his side kick a fraction of a moment later.
Charles extended a hand to Raven, and this time, she took it, letting him help her up. They were both completely soaked. Outside, they could hear the sound of the fire trucks pulling up, having been alerted by the fire alarm.
"We should get going," Charles said. Raven nodded, first walking across the room to pick up the Diviner's sword.
"I've looked for this for ages," she sad, admiring it. Charles patted her on the back in congratulations, then stopped to wipe his hair out of his face. His bangs were getting a little long, he would have to get them cut, he thought.
Raven smiled. "You did a great job, Crowley," she said, actually addressing him by his name at last. True, it was his last name, but it was a small victory. He shrugged modestly.
"Now, I think it's time to go. One portal coming up," Raven continued.
"Do you have enough strength?" Charles asked. Raven nodded. "The great thing about this sword is that it's not just a sword. It's also a wand, and one of its magical properties is that it acts as an amplifier, creating more energy. With this sword, my power is increased almost a thousandfold. So don't worry about me," She said, laughing. She held the sword out in front of her and whispered: "Home!"
Immediately, a beam of light shot from the gem in the center, creating a gateway in the center of the room. The pair could now hear the fire fighters charging up the stairs, and they both ran, and jumped through the gateway, letting it close behind them.
Back in his apartment, Charles flopped on to the couch with a grin. "That was actually kind of fun," he said good naturedly. "I mean, when I wasn't in danger of being seriously maimed."
Raven laughed. "It is exhilarating, in a way," she admitted. "but..."
"But what?" asked Charles sitting up. "What is it?"
Raven had her head down, and her hands in her lap. "I talked to my friends in the Realm," she said quietly. Charles sat up, his grin gone. "And they have rethought their decision. They think they might have acted in haste in having you join us. They don't like the idea of having a mortal live in the Realm."
"Who said anything about me living there? I'm fine here." Charles said.
"I know, but it's not in my power," Raven said sorrowfully. She took hold of her amulet, and looked out into space. "They want me to return now. They've said I've been here long enough."
She sighed, and got up. Charles got up as well, much more solemn.
"I guess this is goodbye, then," he said. She nodded. Charles held out his hand, but instead of shaking it, she hugged him tightly.
"If I need help, I'll call," she said.
"Don't ever hesitate," he replied. Raven nodded again, and climbed through the gateway. It shrank, and vanished behind her, and Charles Crowley did the only thing he could do: he did his dishes.
It was about a week later when he was walking to his car from closing the bookstore that he thought about the events of the past week. It was actually the past two weeks in real time; he had missed from Sunday to Thursday travelling through time while everyone wondered where he was.
His partner, Richard Townsend, was furious with Charles missing so much work, and had forced Charles to close every night since in retaliation. Charles had made a lame excuse of being too sick to pick up the phone, but soon gave that up due to the fact that Richard had called by his apartment and found him missing. So Charles just went along with what everybody thought anyway, namely playing hooky.
He walked along the street, stopping for a moment to stare down the alley. He stopped, he looked, he realised that nothing was down there, and he turned and continued to his car.
Getting in, he was surprised by a peculiar tingly sensation running up and down his spine. He put the key in the ignition, when suddenly a hand reached from the backseat and grabbed him around the throat. He struggled, and tried to get enough leverage to get out of the grip, but the hand was too strong. Too strong for a human...
Out of the corner of his eye he saw on the passenger seat the bottle of water he kept for when he was driving. Even if his attacker was human, it might prove enough of a distraction for him to get free. He managed to grab the bottle, unscrew it, and through it over his head. The resulting scream told him that it was indeed an other who had attacked him.
Charles leapt out of the car. His attacker stumbled out of the backseat, screaming and pawing at his face; Charles recognised his one-time nemesis Henri.
Taking a deep breath, Charles prepped himself to fight. Suddenly there was a yell, and Raven leapt into his field of view. She charged up to Henri, and quickly did a flying kick. She got him in the head, and he dropped like a ton of bricks.
"Come on, Crowley," she said, pulling on his arm. "It's a hit!"
"What? A hit? On me?" Charles was completely confused, so he let himself be lead through the parking lot. Raven created a gateway, and pushed Charles through it.
Charles landed with a thump in a field of waving grasses. He stood up in shock, only to find that the parking lot had been replaced by an endless prairie . As far as the eye could see, there was only gently rolling hills.
Raven stepped out onto the ground next to him. "I hope you like the Other Realm," she said, with a hint of a smile.
"This is the Other Realm? Saskatchewan?" he asked, incredulous. There came a deep throaty laugh behind him. He whirled, to face three people. One was Aisha; another was a dark, Middle Eastern woman, and the third was a tall black woman with long white hair. The Middle Eastern woman laughed again, showing her gold canine teeth.
"Rahme, Lelia, Aisha," Raven said bowing. "I brought him, as requested."
The black woman waked up to Charles, and took his chin in her hands. She was tall enough to do that with out stretching at all, and Charles was no shrimp when it came to height. "He has a good character," she said softly. Her voice was quite deep for a woman's, and very solemn.
"Uh, thanks," Charles said awkwardly, since she still held his chin.
"Rahme, do you think that he can fight with us now?" asked Raven hopefully, directing her question to the black woman.
"We will see," she said slowly, looking Charles over as you would a horse or another type of beast-of-burden. " He does have good character. But that is meaningless unless he can fight. Character does not win wars."
"He fought pretty well against Phillipe," Raven pointed out.
"She has a point." the one named Lelia said, smiling and showing off her gold teeth. "And I have a solution."
"Continue," Rahme said, still looking at Charles,her arms crossed.
"The fate sword. If it chooses him, then we know that he is a..worthy investment," Lelia finished. Rahme sighed deeply and narrowed her eyes in thought. She nodded after a moment, and waved at Raven.
"Do it." she said simply. Raven grinned and flashed Charles a thumbs-up sign. He smiled and nodded. Raven grabbed him by the wrist, and waved the Diviner's Sword over him. He felt the strange tingle down his spine and realised that his features were changing. He stared at his hands. They were now about thirty years older. He stared at Raven, who waved the Sword over herself. Her face began to change. It became older, rounder; her hair changed to dark brown pulled back into a bun. She lost a foot of height and gained a pair of glasses perched on the end of her nose. She smiled.
"Our disguise," she said. "Aisha and I have already worked this out. We're now Lois and Nick Foster. Archaeologists. Normally, a spell like this wouldn't affect those with the Second sight, but I changed it so that you wouldn't call me Raven by mistake."
"I see. Very thoughtful," replied Charles, still adjusting to the change in his hands. He couldn't wait to see what his face now looked like.
"We're expected in England," Raven continued. "We're on a site. Very close to discovering a medieval storehouse. It's a fabulous find. It'll make history."
"I see," Charles said again.
"Now remember: I'm Lois. You're Nick. Or Dr. Foster." Raven said. She opened a portal.
"What are you going to do with your sword?" Charles/Nick asked. "It's...out of character."
Raven/Lois smiled faintly, and shook the sword, creating a spell that made the sword invisible. She hooked the invisible sword in her invisible scabbard, and gestured to the portal. Charles nodded. He took a deep breath and stepped through.
"Ah, Dr. Foster. This must be your lovely wife Lois," Sir Henry said grandly. "We've heard so much about you. We're so pleased you decided to visit our humble expedition."
"It's nothing, really," Charles/Dr. Foster stuttered. "I just have a, uh...personal interest in the excavation."
"We know the feeling. Grew up on Arthurian legends, too, eh?" Sir Henry said with a wink.
Charles laughed feebly, giving a nervous glace at Raven/Lois. He had always been uncomfortable at parties, and this Sir Henry person was beginning to worry him. Raven patted his arm reassuringly, but continued staring out of one of the Hall's windows.
"Come now, Dr. Foster. Surely you're not nervous?" boomed Sir Henry. A large, over-bearing man, Sir Henry was pleasent enough, if you over looked his habit of referring to himself in the plural. That tended to be annoying. Charles tried to fight the over-whelming sense of panic that he was feeling, but only managed to suppress it so far.
"My husband has not been feeling well," Raven suddenly interjected. She must have noticed Charles condition, for she started to pull him away from the room, calling over her shoulder: "You must forgive us, Sir Henry. We will continue the conversation later?"
"Of course, dear girl," Sir Henry replied jovially, looking for someone else to inflict his presence on.
As they entered the Hall's small ante room that opened up into many hallways, Raven whispered: "Are you all right? You've seemed out of sorts all evening."
"I don't know," stammered Charles. "This whole evening I've felt like I've been watched. Like someone or something knows about us."
Raven patted his shoulder gently, looking around for anyone who could be listening. "This is the perfect opportunity to do some research. You've got look through the survey's records. We need to find the exact site. I'll go and mingle, pretending that I've sent you off to bed. Okay?" she whispered.
Charles nodded. He headed down the dark corridor. Raven turned to the door, straightened her shoulders up, and went back into the crowd. Being in such close quarters with so many humans was a bit disconcerting to her, but she managed to cover up her discomfort so that no one guessed.
"Ah, Mrs. Foster! Glad to see you again," Sir Henry seemingly materialized from nowhere. "We trust your husband is all right?"
"A bit of a headache," Raven said, smiling.
"There's a colleague of ours we would like you to meet," Sir Henry said, waving a tall, well-built man over. Raven nearly choked--it was Phillipe LaPierre!
"Charmed," he said, smiling softly. He took her hand and brought it to his face, kissing it in what was no doubt meant as a romantic gesture. But for Raven it was a gesture that made her want to throw up.
He must not know about me, she realised, if he's willing to touch me like that. "The feeling is mutual," she replied, hoping she didn't sound too pompous. Phillipe brightened, and dropped her hand, but never quite let it go.
"And where is your husband?" he asked.
"I sent him to bed--he had a headache. He wanted to stay," she added apologetically to Sir Henry, "But I insisted."
"Of course," Sir Henry laughed. "We are not insulted."
Thank the Powers for that, Raven thought sarcastically. She wondered how Charles was getting on, finding the information they needed to locate the Fate sword. It came as a revelation that if Phillipe was here, then no doubt he was looking for the sword as well. That might mean Charles was in danger!
"My dear lady," Phillipe said, concern on his face, "Are you all right? You have gone very pale."
"I think I might have caught my husband's headache," she replied wanly. "Perhaps I should lie down."
"I will escort you," Phillipe offered.
"No, that's quite alright."
"It is a very cold and dark walk from here to the Hotel!" Phillipe exclaimed. "Do you actually think I can let you go on your own, a woman such as yourself?"
Raven tried to keep from bristling, but saw no other way out. She nodded, and she and Phillipe started to leave.
Charles headed down the dark hallway until he found one of the small rooms off the left of the main room. He fished a small flashlight out of his pocket and checked that this was, indeed, the record room. It was, judging from the make-shift sign that said "Records".
He fiddled with the lock, before deciding just to kick the door in. He wasn't sure how else to gain entry. True, he had never done that, had only seen it done in movies, and wasn't sure if it could be heard from the Hall, but Charles Crowley liked to think of himself as an optimist. Even if he frequently proved himself to be otherwise.
He kicked. The door creaked.
He kicked again. The door groaned.
He kicked a third time, and put all his energy into it. The door splintered, and swung reluctantly open.
Turning on the light, he realised that he'd broken into the wrong room.
Confused, he checked the sign from the door. It said, very plainly "Records". Then he noticed the edges of the sign and realised that the sign had been recently pried off something else.
The signs had been switched.
He turned off the light, and shot into the corridor.
Raven knew something must be up. Phillipe was obviously using the "escort" ruse to get Raven into an area where he could dispose of her without ruining his own identity, which Raven had gathered to be a wealthy philanthropist. Who was funding the entire project.
The project was a dig of an early medieval site that unbeknownst to the humans excavating it housed a sword. A very special, and powerful sword. Made by the same smiths as the legendary Excalibur, the Fate sword was meant to be used in the war against the Others. But no Dweller could use it. And no Other could use it.
Which meant only a human could. A human with the Second Sight.
Such as Charles.
If the Others couldn't use the sword, then they had no use for it. Unless they knew that Charles was coming for it. The final piece of the evening's mystery flew into place.
It's a trap! Raven's mind screamed. She glanced out of the corner of her eye that Phillipe was glaring at her. She made a quick decision. She bolted. Phillipe was quick as well, managing to grab on to her arm, and forcing it behind her back. He slammed her against the outside wall.
"Did you think we are so blind?" he hissed. "We have known of your plans since the moment you came to Earth. We have been waiting. Your idiot of a partner already triggered our alarm trying to find the site information. We know where the Fate sword is, and it is there that it will stay."
Raven struggled. Phillipe was a bit too strong for her in her present guise. She whispered to herself, the spell dissolving, leaving her as her old self again. Phillipe was surprised for a moment, giving Raven the edge and enough time to break free from Phillipe's grasp, and draw the Diviner's sword. She grabbed him by the elbow, and pushed him against the wall. She stood, the sword tip against Phillipe's throat. "Tell me where it is," she said.
She dug the tip in more, drawing blood. "Wrong answer."
Phillipe snarled, and vanished in a wisp of smoke. Raven holstered her sword, and charged into the Hall.
Charles rounded the corner, panting. He realised that he must have been set up, and that the "records" room was probably wired to set off an alarm. He cursed himself for being so stupid.
"Ah, Dr. Foster," said Sir Henry, stepping out from the shadows, nearly scaring Charles half to death. "I believe you were looking for this?" He held up a piece of paper. Squinting, Charles realised it was a map of the archaeological site. Sir Henry smiled, and his features began to magically rearrange themselves into the face of someone much more recognisable to Charles. Henri, the demon henchman, crumpled the map and tossed it aside, grinning maliciously.
Charles gulped, and backed up. He knew he had no chance of winning if he got into a fistfight with Henri. He was to big, too strong. So Charles did the only option left to him. He ran.
He was sprinting down the corridor like a madman when he passed the splintered door of the janitorial closet. On an impulse, he jumped in, swung the door closed, and held his breath in the dark. He hoped and prayed Henri would run past him, but as he heard Henri's footsteps slowing down in the hall, he knew he'd been found.
Henri blocked the door to the small room. There was barely enough space for him and Charles to fit, so he just stood in the door, grinning, enjoying the moment. Charles scanned the room for anything that he could use as a weapon, and grabbed the mop pointing it at Henri. Henri wrenched it from his grip, stepped back from the door and broke the mop over his knee like a thin twig. He stepped back into the door frame his head brushing the top and his shoulders barely fitting, brushing splinters off himself. Charles had another inspiration. He grabbed a bottle from off the shelf, opened it quickly and threw it.
It wasn't hard to aim in the small confines of the room, and the bottle hit Henri square in the face. Hoping the bottle had been filled with water, Charles was surprised by the agonized screams from Henri. But as the smell hit Charles' nose, he realised he'd done one better; the bottle had been filled with bleach.
Taking full advantage of the situation, Charles leapt forward, and kneed Henri in the stomach. Henri doubled over, still trying to get the corrosive liquid out of his eyes, when Charles clocked him with one of the heavier buckets. Henri jumped to the floor, and Charles slammed the splintered remains of the door against Henri's head as an added precaution. That done, Charles leapt out of the closet, and down the corridor.
Raven ran pell-mell down the hallway, looking for Charles, when she suddenly made out in the dark the shape of a body lying in the hall, half in a small room. As she ran up, her heart pounding, the smell of bleach overwhelmed her. She sighed with relief when she realised that it was Henri, and not Charles, that lay at her feet. She started down the corridor again when Charles rammed into her at full speed.
They crashed, and fell to the floor.
"Charles!" Raven exclaimed.
"Raven!" Charles yelled.
"It's trap!" they both cried. Yelling it out at the same time caused Charles to chuckle. "I took care of my evil guy," he said a bit proudly. Raven gestured to the prone form of Henri, and Charles nodded.
"I took care of mine too," she said. "Although, I have to admit, you were more original in your approach." She waved her hand in front of her nose.
"We still need to find the map to the site," Raven continued, getting up and lending Charles a hand. Charles smiled, and waved a crumpled piece of paper. "What's that?" she asked.
"Let's just say it's a gift from our good friend Henri," he replied with a smirk. "Let's hope all our enemies are such arrogant bastards."
The next morning, Charles peeped over the side of the small grassy hill that he and Raven were lying on. "The archaeologists are opening up the site," he reported. "I don't see Phillipe or `Sir Henry' anywhere, though."
Raven nodded thoughtfully. "They'll still have someone undercover there, making sure we don't get past."
"Why all the big fuss?" Charles said, scanning the site for any suspicious signs. "Why don't they just grab the sword and run?"
"Because they can't." Raven sighed. "The Fate sword is very special, and very unique. It was created by one of the greatest swordsmiths ever, and once touched by a human, it will be bonded forever to them. The Others can't even touch it, let alone pull it out of its scabbard."
"Like Excalibur," Charles murmured.
"Exactly like. Those smiths had such a fondness for making specialized equipment." Raven snorted. Charles turned to look at her.
"The Fate sword was made by the same people who made Excalibur?" he said astonished. "Then what am I supposed to do with it? It belongs in a museum!"
"Look, Charles," Raven said hotly. "You may not believe in fate, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. You have a role to play now, and you have to except it. If the Fate sword was meant for you, then you--and only you--will be able to pick it up and use it."
"I thought they were still deciding whether or not to keep me," Charles grumbled. Raven grinned.
"They'll come around." she replied. Charles huffed, and lay on his stomach, looking at the encampment. The tents and machinery were being brought out, and it was fascinating for him to watch. Suddenly, he noticed one faintly familiar figure walking around, apparently looking for someone. Squinting into the light, Charles had a hard time making out the face, until the man walked into a tent. Then his face stood out sharply.
"We have a visual identification," Charles announced.
"I just saw Phillipe."
"Then why didn't you say that?" Raven demanded, looking at the encampment herself. Charles shrugged.
"It's what they always say in the movies."
Raven sighed, and kept looking. "That's Phillipe all right. He'll probably call in reinforcements the moment he sees us, so we have to be careful." She started to get up.
"What are you doing?!" Charles said, pulling her down by her arm. "Shouldn't we wait until the camp is a bit more deserted?"
"That's what he'll be expecting!" Raven snapped, pulling her arm out his grip. "He won't expect us to march right in."
"Are we what?"
"Marching right in."
"Uh huh." Raven got up, and started her way down the hill. Charles groaned, and followed after her.
Raven strode purposely through the throng of archaelogists, looking as if she belonged there. In her leather jacket, she looked like a blond female version of Indiana Jones, and Charles was hard pressed to keep up with her fast pace.
"We're almost there," she muttered. So far, so good.
"Stop!" rang out a sudden voice. It was Phillipe. He pointed at Raven and Charles, yelling: "Get them!"
Raven and Charles didn't wait to see who he was yelling at, and took off at top speed for the underground entrance. They pushed past all the scientists, making it into the underground chamber.
There was a very very old wooden door, leading the way to the maze of tunnels that Raven knew hid the Fate sword. She took her own sword from her scabbard, and shoved Charles towards the door. "Go find the sword. I'll hold them off." she ordered. Charles nodded, and opened the door, ducking into the musty hallway just as Phillipe and his goons found Raven.
"Get out of the way, Dweller," Phillipe hissed. "We promise not to hurt your friend too badly."
"What an arguement," Raven said, holding up her sword, and taking a fighting stance.
"I do not have time for talking!" Phillipe snarled. "Andre, Jean and Michael, take care of this idiot. Henri, you and I will go after the human."
The three demons started in on Raven. There were too many of them to be able to fight and still keep them from going through the door, so she did the best she could, and yelled: "CHARLES!" as loud as possible.
Charles had memorised the map on Raven's instructions, but that didn't mean he was too great with orienteering. He was wandering through the maze when he heard Raven's faint call of "Charles!" and he knew one of two things: either she was in trouble and needed help, or he was in trouble and needed help. If he ignored her call, she might be killed. If he went to help her, he might be killed. He was paralysed for a moment, trying to make the choice and to take the chance, until he heard some random French curses coming from the main hall. He realised in a split second she had called to warn him, and he took off.
Running through the halls began to disorient him even further, and he tried to fight the panicked feeling that he was lost. He had no idea where he was, and the memorised map was of no use. Turning a corner, he ran face first into Henri, who had managed to survive their last encounter, and was obviously looking for blood. Henri grabbed Charles by the neck, and lifted him off the floor. Charles grabbed at Henri's wrists, trying to loosen the grip, but the Other was too strong.
"Henri," Phillipe said, "Put the human down. He can show us the way to the sword. I know he knows the way."
Henri reluctantly let go, and Charles dropped to his knees, gasping. His freedom was short, as Henri grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, and jabbed him in the back to get him going.
In one of the halls, they met up with the other party of demons, bearing a scruggling Raven. Charles kept leading them onwards, when the floor started sloping down, leading them farther underground. They realised they had reached the end of ecavated area, when the string of lights, running through the halls and powered aboveground, stopped, leaving the rest of the hall in complete darkness.
Phillipe pointed the Diviner's sword at Raven. One of the demons had taken it from her during the fight, and Phillipe now used it as his own personal walking stick. "Generate some light for us, so that we may continue." he ordered her. She glared at him.
"I need the Sword to boost my power," she replied.
"Nice try. Your own efforts should be sufficient." he snarled in return. When Raven made no move to do anything, Phillipe calmy pressed the sword against Charles' throat. Raven glared agian, but held up her hands as she worked a spell to generate light.
The light she gave off from her hands was enough to see down the corridor to the large metal door at the end. Charles was given a prod, and they continued.
At the door, Charles felt a tingly sensation--now quite familiar--down his back. He tensed as one of Phillipe's boys swung open the door. There was a sudden swish of air, and the demon reeled back, covered in blood, an arrow sticking out of his chest.
"Backup's here," announced Aisha, crouched just inside the door, arrow already on the string. She fired again, and another henchman dropped. Raven took advantage of the attack to knock out her captor with a swift chop to the windpipe, and tackled Phillipe. They both went down, fighting, when Henri grabbed Charles again by the neck before he coud make any moves. Charles coud barely breathe, but he managed to kick Henri solidly between the legs. Henri gasped for a moment, allowing Charles enough of an advantage to get himsef free. He the tried to run into the chamber, nearly tripping over Raven and Phillipe in the process. Raven managed to get a hold on the sword, using it to cut Philipe's arm. He yelled, and rolled over to get away. Aisha in the meantime, dropped another of the henchmen.
Rahme's impressive frame appeared in the doorway. "Bring the Others in here," she said. "We will allow them to witness the turning point in the war."
Charles helped drag the two dead and the two unconcious ones into the well lit room (where was that light coming from? he wondered) with Lelia's and Aisha's help, while Raven led in a sour Phillipe.
"Now, Charles," Rahme said grandly. "Accept your destiny."
Charles looked to see where she was pointing. It was a niche in the center of the far wall, with a sword, hung horizontally in its scabbard. The sword seemed to gleam, and Charles relised that it was the sword that was producing the light, and not any of the Dweller's magic. He suddenly realised, for the first time, how powerful the sword really was.
Charles had a moment of indescion. Should he accept the sword? It meant an entirely new life for him, one he wasn't sure he could handle. He turned to look at Raven, and the others. They were counting on him. Maybe, as Raven had said, the descion wasn't his to make, but his to accept, like Rahme had remarked. He turned again, and took a step forward.
He was almost to the sword when there was a yell from behind him. Phillipe broke away, and charged, crashing into Charles, sending both of them to the ground.
Raven stepped forward the moment Phillipe broke away, but Rahme stopped her, shaking her head.
"No!" Phillipe cried, and whipped out from his pocket a small knife. He tried to stab at Charles, who frantically tried to block the attempts. One of the slashes caught him in the arm, drawing blood. He gritted his teeth, and tried to force Phillipe onto his back and off Charles.
Finally, Charles managed to get Phillipe off him, and pinned him to the ground. He punched him, stunning him, then made a leap for the sword. Phillipe managed to grab a hold of his legs. Charles stretched, trying to make a grab for the sword, when he suddenly felt a burning sensation in his leg. Phillipe had driven the knife into his thigh, and Charles thought for a minute he was going to pass out, but instead he made the longest strech he could. His seventh grade gym teacher would have been proud.
His fingers brushed the sword, and that was enough. The light around the sword grew, flashing super-bright for a moment, then fading. Charles suddenly found the sword in his hands, and he instinctually made a slashing motion towards Phillipe, catching him in the shoulder. The Other leapt back, snarling. Charles stood, shakingly, and made a lunge.
The Fate Sword hit Phillipe dead center, and with an inhuman shriek, Phillipe vanished in a haze of red mist. The rest of his henchmen crew vanished with them.
Charles stood for a moment, looking at a smiling Raven, Lelia, Aisha and Rahme. Then his eyes rolled up and fainted dead away.