Synopsis: Since running into the girl that fell ill there have been two other individuals have fallen ill with similar symptoms. This prompts Khalid to attempt to contact a family member to get a better idea of what could be happening in Gotham. While in the middle of getting prepared to cast his spell he encounters Rebecca Langstrom. The two begin discussing what’s happened recently in Gotham. This begins to give Khalid a better idea the current state of affairs. Deciding to trust Rebecca, Khalid casts his spell to speak with his deceased mother, Farrah, who learns he’s in Gotham. After a brief conversation Farrah advises that she will check into his inquiry while making Khalid promise to deliver a message to an old family friend.
Khalid advises Rebecca to be careful as she continues to embrace magic and her own origins as it is a dangerous time and that the current state of magic may be the reason why the cultists who attempted to place her under their will are making a move.
Concern. It was the feeling that had crept into my mind upon hearing the words that the girl had spoken. I wasn’t clear on what to do from there. I know it wasn’t a trick of the mind. To many other things happened prior to her collapse. Emergency services had arrived and whisked her off taking her to the local hospital and nothing more was thought about it.
I thought about talking to my father about it, but I rather not worry him. I didn’t want him to become distracted. I thought nothing of it until there was another student that collapsed this time it was a guy, he collapsed on his way to class. I didn’t see him, but I heard about it. Couldn’t help hearing about it. It was similar to the girl though not as many people had seen her collapse. However, the description was the same he fell to the ground and grew weak, frail even. There was nothing natural about what was described, but some believed it was the flu. Others were worried that it could be something worse.
Two different cases of an unknown ailment. Both the woman and the man were running fevers. They complained of feeling weak and that’s when they were able to speak. It was sudden and came upon them quickly and the two of them had no interactions. That puzzled the doctors, but for Gotham University the only thing that was communicated was that there may be a strong strain of the flu going through the school and that people should take precaution.
Wash your hands. Cough into the pit of your elbow. Get a flu shot if you haven’t. If you start to feel ill go to the on campus health clinic. A completely normal response, because the hospital had not stated that there was anything to be concerned about. Students weren’t coming in droves. Two cases and they seemed to be isolated from one another beyond the fact that they attended the same university. There was nothing that linked them. That was the puzzling part.
Still I had seen what I saw in the puddle of water when I knocked the girl’s water bottle out of her hand. I remember the water spreading across the ground and the images that revealed themselves to me. The night that the boy grew ill I saw the moon darken, but I don’t have visions.
However, it does not mean that visions can not been given. I remember that.
I told myself that I should go, but I didn’t. I told my father that I would speak to him soon. If I went I would have only gone to see him off. Instead I stayed and good thing, because there was another incident and this time I saw the crowd had gathered and there was a picture. It was another guy, he was in the band. He collapsed during practice as he was taking a picture.
A mark was on his face that looked reminiscent of a spider web of some kind, it looked like bruising of came. It came and went, because by the time emergency services arrived it was gone, but it did stir a bit of a panic. It was more the mark that concerned people. The administration was getting in front of this along with staff at the hospital. Tests were sent off, but there were still questions. Questions that had no answer, not yet at least.
I had a picture, but nothing more. It had started to circulate among some of the students. II needed to know that I wasn’t seeing something where there was nothing. This could be an illness. There was another concern, but nothing I could out right say to most people. They wouldn’t understand so I waited. I waited and asked one of the professors in the archaeology department that was friends with my father if I could use one of the labs. I was doing a little work while I was visiting the school.
Nothing was out of the ordinary about the request. I needed to wait until not had fell, because I had not realized it until I came across the date. Something had happened and there was only one person I trust to consult on the matter.
Night fell upon the campus. I told Ronnie that I would give him call tomorrow. He was worried, because he knew I was worried about my dad and I am, but I’m more worried about what’s happened. I was so focused that I didn’t check to see if anyone was nearby or might have seem me striding down the hall with a satchel as I looked in to make sure I had everything I needed. Nothing out of the ordinary, candles, athame.
What’s the worst that worst that I could do?
Opening the door to the room I shut it behind me. This isn’t something that you want to do in the hotel room.
Magic left a trail, a feeling, something that tickled her senses and made the tiny little hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. It was a purse instinctual feeling that Rebecca was trying to understand. She could reason that maybe she could feel it because hunting it down may lead to something she could gain. She was trying to think from the angle of a predator, a trail left to be followed, to stalk. Following these feelings led to some mixed results, not all of them pleasant. She took a much more cautious approach this time when it was so close ‘home’, on her campus, students falling ill from a bad flu. The warnings were out there, posters put up to ‘dab’ your cough and your sneeze. The truly paranoid brandishing some fashionable face masks to avoid breathing contaminated air.
It had taken Becky a while to catch on to what was going on but she didn’t have any answers either. It all surfaced as symptoms of an illness but it had the tinge of something else involved. That was all she had to go by, that feeling that pricked at her neck and not a lot of information. She merely didn’t have the time to perform an investigation into it. After classes she was studying and training. Weekends? Training. What stolen moments of freetime she had, had been filled with terrifying news and working every angle she could think of to center herself and fight a battle between her nature and her heart.
Sometimes she hoped for just having the normal struggles she was familiar with. Then again, she had never had any real exposure of what ‘normal’ was. Despite the facade her family tried very hard to keep up within her home, it was far from normal. Her brother was forever marked by the family’s legacy of bio-engineering. Her father was still gone, not missing but perhaps doing the very same soul-searching that Becky found herself doing over the last week. She had a small hope that maybe during the trip with her mentor she might be able to track down a lead. Despite knowing the truth of her creation, of her true origins, the man that raised her and took care of her was still an important priority in her life.
The halls were quiet, though, not quiet enough. The echoes of footsteps were easily caught by her ears in the Science building. That prickly feeling at her neck again with every soft and cautious step she took. She made a peek around the corner, pulling the straps of her bag around her shoulders a little tighter. A young man working his way into one of the chem labs. It wasn’t a familiar face, or maybe she had seen it before and didn’t think anything of it. There were few other students she talked to regularly, then again, she was fairly anti-social and had her nose in a book most of the time.
It was a split-second decision. Follow and come off as creepy and suspicious? Keep walking and wait for the next horrible thing to happen?
Her jaw went tight and she strolled forward towards the classroom.
She made a polite knock on the door, hopefully quickly enough before the other student got too settled.
“Hey. Potions Lab is in the basement by the Slytherin Dorm.”
I could have gone back home and did what I needed to do there, but it would probably defeat the purpose if I had. It was more than a feeling that I had. There was something happening here saying that I could not put my finger on it was an understatement. I required assistance. Consultation.
In some ways I was seeking out a second opinion. I was also looking for a diagnosis.
Slipping the satchel from my shoulder I set it upon the counter and began to remove one of the items when I heard the knock and the voice behind me. Slipping the candle back into the bag I turned towards the visitor with an arch of a brow.
That was a very specific reference. Running the tip of my tongue across the back of my teeth I leaned back against the counter taking a moment to decide if this was a good, bad, or benign situation.
“Pardon?” Why a Harry Potter reference? I did have a chemistry book in and notebook in my bag, so I could play it off, but are people this curious naturally or was there something that stood out?
“I have the lab scheduled for the next two hours.” Not a lie. She could check. “Were you scheduled to use the room?” That would be unfortunate, because I would need to find another spot. Also, poor communication, but something told me neither of those were the reason. She did not look lost, so let’s see where this goes.
She shrugged as she allowed the door to close behind her. She wasn’t even sure what she was chasing down but so far it didn’t seem like a threat.
“Just a feeling,” it was an honest response but she didn’t make any sudden movements and moved slowly as she moved to the nearest table and took a seat on the stool.
Rebecca studied him for a moment before shifting the weight of her bag to slide it onto the table and rummage through the contents to pull out a jar of some kind of black substance.
“Thought you might need some help studying. Black salt. Stronger kick than Morton’s.”
My eyes followed her movements watching as the door was shut. Looking back towards the stranger my brow arched for a moment wondering exactly what this feeling was. Just a feeling. Not something unfamiliar, but what type of feeling. My eyes continues to follow her waiting for her to come to a stop again. My lips twist a bit while I give her words and actions some thought.
“Studying. Okay. I’m going to go with I think I got this, but something tells me that’s not going to elicit the response I’m hoping for.” It rarely does.
“So, how about we focus on the “Just a feeling.” Time better spent yes?” I think it is, but hard to say what she thinks.
“The feeling? Okay.”
She pressed her lips together unsure of how to go forward with that. There was a pretty firm line that was dangerous to cross. It was different than the usual crazy stuff this city usually saw. This was about forces that didn’t see the light of day and rarely made it into public view. She also didn’t want to out herself too much, the less someone with that kind of knowledge knew about her, the better.
“Like when….something bad happens and the room feels cold and the air is full of electricity. When you walk by a place where people have suffered and you can just feel the weight and the doom of it. Felt a little more like static this time. But, this coming from the crazy witch girl that no one really talks to.”
She had overheard the rumors, she can hear whispers across the room, it wasn’t a big secret that others talked about her. There were a few that didn’t, or didn’t care. She was still wearing her classmate’s jacket that he had leant to her and she hadn’t quite gotten around to giving it back to him. He was nice, but he was one of the quiet ones too.
“Just bothered me to see my fellow students sick, real sick. There’s been weird stuff going around and I’m really worried about it spreading.”
There was a lot to unpack there and I could dig into all of that, but instead of tipping hands and giving away more than I needed I focused on a few things to respond to.
“Weird stuff? More so than people taking ill?” That was troubling, but there were always weird things going on. Not that everyone noticed. When people noticed you had to wonder why they noticed. It’s not that I’m paranoid or feel that you can’t trust anyone, but I don’t even know her name and she knock on the door of the room that I was in.
“Students getting sick is unfortunate. I’ve seen one of them up close and it doesn’t look good at all.” Throw something out and see what happens.
“But now you have me worried. Am I one of the weird things or weird feelings because you decided to dropped in on me. Do you think something is going to happen to me or do you think I’ve done something nefarious?”
I thought it was a fair question. Still why would I of all people be involved in doing something to people? Is it because I stand out by being a stranger or am I giving off a vibe?
“Something in town at the garden under the Hunter’s Moon.”
She wasn’t sure if he had caught onto that or maybe it slipped under the radar. Becky really hoped it just slipped under the radar. This was a word game of chess just trying to come to some understanding. Her anxiousness acted out in the form of sliding the jar from one hand to the other over the black surface of the table.
“I don’t know. I don’t think it’s nefarious or I would have reacted differently. I can go, if you want. Use the salt though. Doorways, windows, mirrors. Circle around yourself. Make sure your intentions are clear.”
With the last shove of the jar she didn’t catch it, merely allowed it to nearly reach the edge of the table.
“Keeps those nefarious things out, or it will trap them in.”
I consider what she says next along with the witch girl comment. I don’t know. It was more about a bit of trust than anything. Sure he could go about protecting himself, in the various manners and methods that he was accustomed to, but int his case it was something that he could not do.
“I’m afraid that I cannot use that.” Looking towards jar I consider what could happen, but it’s also why I make a tweak.
“I need the way to be open. The circle only calls, but it is not a conduit. If ways in are blocked then I defeats what I’m trying to do. Ordinarily this would be done within a space of my own, or preparations would be made. ” That would take a little longer that I would like. “If you like you can stay and spread the salt afterwards, but it will need to be removed afterwards. It would be a waste of salt.” That much was true.
“I need to speak with a family member.”
“Take it anyways. Might come in handy another time,” it wasn’t much use to her.
The fact was, it could easily be used against her but she felt better arming someone else with the ability to protect themselves with the right tools. Her chin lifted in interest when he went on about what he was trying to do. She hadn’t had much luck with some of the spells she had attempted, a sad admission to herself that she probably just wasn’t gifted in that area.
“You sure? I’ll stay right here if that’s okay…be your Buffy to your Willow.”
There was some hesitation to her words, an uncomfortable squirm. Spirits could see things that may be more easily overlooked by the mortals that dwelled in this realm. At best, she could at least make sure something else didn’t come along with the relative. Dropping the protective veils was a risk and not using anything to shield himself made him quite vulnerable.
Either way, she was on her feet and leaning against the table instead. It was quicker to respond while standing whether it was to protect or leave at his request.
“Well, this interesting. You’re just giving this away? I mean what if you might need it? Perhaps a friend could use it?” I look at the contained, inspecting it carefully before sitting it down on one of the tables. “What about you? It’s something that you could use?” My brows arched for a moment. “I guess what I’m saying is that you had it for a reason. Are you sure you want to part with it?”
Pulling my satchel towards me while considering the question I wonder how best to respond. “Well, I could leave. You could leave, but I think curiosity might get the better of you. If I leave you’ll probably think I’m up to no good and follow me just to make sure that I’m keeping my nose clean. If you leave you might get the wrong idea if something goes horribly wrong suspecting that I might be the cause because I either didn’t take the proper precautions dabbling in things I shouldn’t or I decided to just play fast and loose and do what I want.” Equally valid points.
“Is there something that I should be concerned about? ” I have neither confirmed or deny what I was going to do. Contacting a family member is as easy as phoning them.
“Perhaps we should go about this a different way. I’m Khalid.” I turn to give her my full attention. “What name do you prefer to go by. Why name do you feel most comfortable with. True or false it doesn’t matter. However, a name would be nice. It could be a start.”
“It’s a gift. I can always get more or make more. It’s not a big deal.”
Her lips twisted in frustration. This was dancing around the bush and the whole situation was a lot more complicated than she’d like it to be. It wasn’t easy to be straightforward about these kinds of things. She couldn’t just come out and say what she actually was and what she was doing here, though for the most part she had been fairly truthful. She was following a feeling.
“I’m not the unofficial campus security. If you want to leave and go do your own thing, that’s fine. You could also ask me to leave since you were here first and I would respect that and hold nothing against you, Khalid.”
She appeared confused by his request for a name, her lips parted to say one thing but she was a bit lost in the word play.
It wasn’t the name she felt the most comfortable with. Every day, every bit of information she learned, she felt that much more separated from it. Names have power. She wasn’t even sure what was going on at this point and if it was one big mistake she would just make a damned fool of herself to some stranger. A stranger with a name.
Looking the jar over once more when she said she could get some more or make some more I considered that for a second. There’s always a need for the substance, but at the moment I was more focused on who she was. What she was. She was drawn here, but there was also an unease about her that was quite evident.
She spoke of the Hunter’s Moon. Not something that you start with in casual conversation, but there was very little that was casual about the conversation. Not real.
“I don’t know. Perhaps you are the unofficial security.” He shrugged. “I’m just a visitor really.” It was the truth, but I was curious. If there was uncertainty on my end it was because I was not sure if I was meant to stay or go. If I left it would be of my own accord not, because something spoke through the girl that I bumped into pressing me to go. That alone gave me pause, but what I realized last night gave me even greater pause.
“Pleasure to meet you, Becky.” Walking over towards my satchel I one of the items that was stashed inside. It was a calendar nothing special about that. However, what came next was a series of candles five to be exact.
“You’re right to be wary about thing slipping in and out. When you cast a line into the aether hoping hook something you invite good and bad. I’ve seen it happen. Things go bad usually because the structure of the entire ritual. People skirt rules, sometimes they don’t know them. Others don’t respect them.”
I arrange the circles into a loose circle. “It’s like talking over unsecured line. Anyone can hack in if their strong enough, skilled enough, and sometimes through random dumb luck. They look through unfinished tombs. Or finished ones and say a few words and hope to hell it works. This says nothing of those who fall into the psychic or sensitive area. They get it the worse. They’re beacons beaming into the darkness. They flicker at first then they light up when they start flexing their muscles and sometimes all hell break loose.”
Setting the final candle down I look over at them. “It’s not as difficult as one thinks. Not when the spark is there. Dialing random numbers gets you in trouble. Sometimes it can be necessary, but this, well you either get an answer from the person you want or you don’t. Usually if you don’t it’s because the times not right. You’re stilling living in the moment. That’s if you’re reaching out for someone near.”
Walking back over towards the satchel I reach in to retrieve three things.
A book of matches.
A strip of paper that very much like a strip of papyrus.
And a pen.
Striking the match I walk over towards the candles lighting one then proceeding to light the others with the flame of the proceeding one. There are other ways to do what I want, but this way is the least evasive. At least I consider it the least evasive while I write down what I need folding the strip of papyrus right down the middle.
“I see confirmation to suspicions I have, Becky. Either I can see out or someone can’t see in. It troubles me and I what I need to know a Magic 8 ball can’t answer.”
“It’s nice to meet you too, even if I’m not even sure what you’re doing. I’m aware that it could be easy to invite something completely uninvited without a good anchor, a clear intent, the right items to guide those intentions like a compass to the right being. Some want to skimp over the details and skip right to the juicy stuff, that’s when mistakes are made. Doors are opened that can’t be closed.”
It was all she could really follow up with. Theory she knew well, there were so many ways to do what she thought he was trying to do. There were a lot of right ways to do it and a lot of wrong ones too. She at least knew even if she had no practice of it. There was a reason she was staying well away and not edging any closer, she didn’t want to taint this and it was quite possible she could.
The was he talked wasn’t too different to what she was used to hearing from Jason’s ramblings. Not that she discounted those words or stopped paying attention, sometimes it was hard to follow when it felt like a riddle. She didn’t seem too concerned with what he might bring into the room. There wasn’t anything much worse than what she was to really spook her. Not that she considered herself to be horrible but that was a matter of perspective and the universe had its own balance of things.
“Simple. Reliable spell. Slight modification definitely sampled.”
I grinned while I walked over towards the satchel and retrieved the last item, the double edged blade.
“Oh if they look annoyed. It’s my fault. They kind of hate the spell, but like my grandmother says, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Just don’t tell her I said ain’t. She hates that even if she says it all the time.”
All that aside I lean forward to set the payrus on fire letting it better before tossing it towards the center. I let it burn to release the smoke and burn what was written inside.
One moment everything is fine. Everything is just as it should be, but it changed. It was enough to make the hairs stand on the back of uninitiated’s neck. There was a bit of a power magic, a wisp of it.
“Hear these words, hear my cry, spirit from the other side. Come to me, I summon thee, cross now the great divide.”
I take the point of the blade piercing the tip of left middle finger releasing three drops of blood into the flame of the candle that I lit first.
“Blood to blood, I summon thee. Blood to blood, return to me.”
The magic in the room rose for a moment before there was a swirl of lights inside the circle of candles followed by a rush of flames, but none went beyond the candles which did not melt away.
“You used that spell again.” The disembodied voice chastised.
“It’s easy to remember and it works. It solid.” I reply as the flames down revealing a woman of mixed birth dressed in a white linen gown. Her hair was dark, her eyes lighter brown than mine, but the shape her eyes matched my own as did her lips.
“I won’t answer next time.”
“You know the world could be facing a horrible fate right now. Raining fire. Toads falling from the air. Hell on earth and everything. Or mad gods.” I didn’t even want to get into what I heard about what happened in Metropolis and then in Coast City. “Creeping death released from the bowels of the underworld..”
“Creepy crawly death everywhere. It’s possible and it could be stopped, but I’m being mommed on my choice of spell.”
“As it should be.”
My head falls back.
“Exaggerated Homer Simpson groans are not allowed.”
I settle for a small one.
“Becky my mom. Mom this is Becky. Change that station before you even ask. It is not that type of event.”
“Focus mom. Focus.”
I should’ve rung up granddad.
It was a little bit of a challenge not to watch too intensely. Controlling the movements of her head tilting and trying not to be too obvious when she sniffed the air when the blood was spilled. It was a delicious scent, even when it was burning, alluring like a fine perfume. She caught herself from leaning in by gripping the table.
It was almost as enchanting as the figure that didn’t quite materialize of the woman. Beautiful in an ethereal and otherworldly way, maybe the beauty was in that she was such a strong spirit, able to find her form and her voice so clearly. Where did Khalid pull her from? Questions that picked at her while she remained silent until there was an introduction.
Her eyes were so sharply focused on watching, they went a bit wide when the focus shifted to her.
“Uh…hi, Mom. Pleasure.”
She caught herself in her response, it wasn’t helping Khalid’s case but she was just used to calling her friend’s moms by the same name. Well, with what few friends she had growing up.
This is usually how things went. It would pass eventually. There was little that I could do about that. Life had not stopped when she left this world. I grieved and I continued on as I know she would have wanted it. My father is moving on, but his grief still holds him in a place where he cannot do what I do. If he did he would never move forward. He would never continue on with his life as she wants him to. It is the one thing I have not shared with my father and I do not seek my mother all the time.
“Mom..” I try to get her to focus on the fact that I did summon her. She’s looking Becky over carefully, not exactly scrutinizing but something has caught her eye.
She says with a nod.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Becky.”
Her attention drifts from Becky back towards me. She has questions, but she’s processing. Better not to bog her down with the details. Obviously, Becky is some connection to the world beyond the veil other wise I wouldn’t have done the spell.
“Consider Becky more of a spectator, mom. I have a concern. I had a vision. I don’t’ have visions.”
It’s as simple as that.
We say at the same time.
“Someone gave me a vision and I think I know who that some is.”
My mother starts to speak causing me to shake my head. Switching to Arabic would be impolite.
“Hunter’s Moon recently past, but my vision had nothing to do with the Hunter’s Moon at least not that
I could tell.”
”Khalid if you were given a vision that you must interpret what it. I cannot divine or share the information. It’s forbidden. If you were given a vision then you must decide what it means and act accordingly. I cannot influence your decision. I’m afraid that you’ve summoned me for no reason.”
Where there had been a joy, motherly joy, things changed as she spoke to me. I knew the rules when it came to visions. Our family did not have naturally occurring visions. Having the gift of visions is different from being gifted with a vision. Sometimes being gifted with a vision was the exact opposite.
“Mom. I know. I know, but that’s not why I summoned you. I’m pretty sure what the vision was trying to tell me. This is more about Khonsu. I cannot see him. I search the sky and he is no where to be seen. That is my concern.”
I glance towards Becky. “That weird feeling you had. The concern about your fellow classmates. The Night Traveler’s eye is no longer upon us. It’s more than a feeling for me. More of a concern. It is one thing for the Traveler to step away so to speak to hide his face from us, but for his face to be hidden that is something entirely different. There is something that someone does not want him to see. Something that is being hidden from him and perhaps others.“
I think the vision I had was incomplete.
“Kama turid. ‘Ana ‘afahum.”
Becky shrugged as she spoke softly. It didn’t matter to her what was spoken, she would understand it. The infernal gift of her blood that she cared not to explain and really couldn’t explain. She didn’t want to be the rude one when she was simply a spectator and she felt more like a spectator that forced her involvement. She certainly felt like she didn’t belong but listening was important, if there were parallels to be drawn, she wanted to be sure to hear this story.
“His face shines bright during this moon, allowing hunters to see their prey and farmers to work into the evening to harvest the last of the crops. It is a symbol of change, gripping onto the last bits of life before the coming winter when the prey hides and the crops wither.”
Becky seemed concerned but she didn’t know what any of that meant, if it was not seen in the sky for some time. It was the conflict of beliefs and science that was troubling her. She was trying to reason it out but it was beyond her grasp and beyond her knowledge. Khalid seemed better in touch with it. What she knew was beliefs that ruled the northern hemisphere, that was gleaned from other cultures of a more European origin.
“I’m still figuring things out, Khalid. I’m the only one with an interest in this, my parents are scientists,” it was a partial lie. The truth didn’t really have an impact on her knowledge and experience at the moment.
Also in truth, Becky didn’t know who was pushing the pawns around. This could be too separate events or part of the whole to culminate towards some end. This world wasn’t an easy one to figure out, the mysteries ran deep and tracks were covered with illusions and riddles.
I have my reasons for proceeding the way that I did. I know my mom. She has questions, but she doesn’t always ask her questions. She lets things play out. I should have seen that coming. I don’t apologize for my actions. I move forward. Now that certain questions have been asked and answered I know I will be receiving her thoughts about this entire matter soon enough. She’s translucent, but not completely transparent, but the slight ‘mmm’ sound is enough to let me know that she has concerns, but not concerns enough hat I cannot move forward.
While others might narrow their eyes, my mother on the other hand turns to study her surroundings. She had not asked the all-important question.
Rather than head her off at the pass I chose to respond to Becky’s statement. I have no idea what’s happening with her or if things are intrinsically connected or tangentially. It could be that they are starting with the latter and may eventually become the former, but it’s difficult to say. However, I think it’s ok to be uncertain. It preserves a healthy amount of caution something many people lack. At least that’s what I’ve been told.
“I think of it less than science versus magic..” I went and said it first. Darn I was hoping to say second. “… and more like seekers of knowledge. We just employ different methods. Some even blend the two when they need.” She may be the only one that has interest in this but it doesn’t mean that their paths don’t run parallel or cross. I’m sure she’s seen it.
“Better to consider all possibilities rather than just one. Consider the possibilities and then decide upon the best course of action. One of my teachers said something like that.” Directing my attention back towards my mom I offer her a smile and try to diffuse the coming situation, because suspicions had been raised somewhat on several fronts.
Family drama aside it was not the time. I need her to depart and consult with others. She would get a message to me.
“Decide how you wish to spend our time together, Mom.” I had to reminder. Yes the spell I used is reliable, but there are rules. As time goes on I will be able to speak with her more often, but right now there are limited.
“Where are you?”
Oh, straight for the jugular. No happy times. There should be happy time shouldn’t there be?
Is it important.
“Campus. In a lab.”
I regretted the moment I said it.
“Khalid, where are you?”
“In a room talking to you trying to get additional information.”
“Does it matter? I need you to do this for me. Confirm his Khonsu’s sight has been blocked.”
There gaze she levels at me says it all.
”Becky, where is my son? What city is this?”
Rebecca nodded. Her parents were seekers of the mysteries of science and had unlocked some amazing truths in their search. They could have only done it together by combining their expertise and together they created the chain of events that led to the birth of the Bat. No one else could unlock that and what’s to say there wasn’t a little bit of the mystic tied into that as well?
‘The price’ was something she was starting to understand. Using magic, using science, it all had a price and it took things and sacrifices that weren’t monetary. It picked at your humanity, it picked at the bonds of love and family.
Becky knew that tone of voice, it struck panic into the hearts of children, it was enough to make her wince and tense. It seemed fine until the question and gaze was directed at her. Crap.
She wasn’t sure if it mattered. The city had a reputation of having a lot of problems, it wasn’t exactly the best place to live and grow up. It was the kind of place that tore you apart and brought you down. Somehow Becky thrived in it, but she was surrounded by the suffering, by the darkness. There was history and mysteries locked away in the past and lost to the changing landscape. Dark things.
It could have been Hub City. That’s all I can think right now. With the answer acquired my mom turns towards me and I have my arms open wide with a smile on my face like this could make the situation better.
She did not flame out which is a plus foe me and a minus.
”Kind of sort of. Dad said I should try to visit with him. I don’t know if there’s time. He gave me an address to go to.”
This can go either way really. I don’t know. Everything felt a little different.
I let her take it in. I know it’s been a long time since she and my uncle saw one another. I know the memories it stirs. I let her have the moment, because there is little that I can do about that.
”I told your grandfather that your path is yours to make as it should be. I know the choice you have made. I knew the choice you would make before you could even speak. It is in your eyes. His eyes.”
Tipping my head down I draw in a deep breath attempting not to talk about this subject. It would lead into a longer, deeper conversation that I don’t know if we’re ready to have.
“Granddad won’t like it. He may not…”
”He is your grandfather. That will never change. You will be you. I have no doubt in that.”
She was holding back. There was more she wanted to say. I could sense it. You know when your parents are holding back. I could attempt to draw it out, but I won’t.
”If you do happen upon Uncle Alan. Tell him hello. Tell him your grandfather does not regret his choices and tell him he is missed.”
It’s as simple as that. Not really, because now I have a message deliver.
“Such a cheater.”
”World class.” She smirked. ”You should’ve seen it coming.”
There’s some muttering and a motion of my hand.
“Alright. Can’t say it’s going to be a timely delivery, but I’ll deliver the message.” Simple as that.
“That said. Gotham. The Bats,” she asked.
Right to business eh?
“No. What you think I’m going to step out and start sending out flares. This hit me not the other way around.”
There’s a look exchanged between the two of us, but she moves on.
”Gotham. Blood or Etrigan?”
I shake my head.
“I have not crossed either of their paths.” Not that they would know me. I’ve never been to Gotham. Never traveled in their circles.
Again I shake my head. “No reason for anyone to get involved with anything that I’ve done.” Reason to consult. Maybe.
“I thought it better to get confirmation before running down the streets sound the alarm when there may be nothing to sound the alarm about. I’m not getting anyone’s hair mucking up anyone’s city. I’m not doing anything to be perceived as a threat, dabbler or a fool.” I dig in my pocket and hold up the tarot card of the fool. “Constant reminder.” Not that the Fool was a bad card it meant different things depending on how it landed, but it again it reminded me to use caution when possible. The barbarians aren’t at the gate so better to ask questions.
“I’ve taken on your request. All I ask is that you do the same.” There is a cost this just happens to be a minor one compared when viewed in the grand scheme of things. I just have to deliver a message.
”Very well.” She turned from me to Becky.
”Thank you for being forthcoming when my son would not, Becky.” My mother’s eyes lingered upon Becky for a moment longer before turning back towards me.
”Use a different spell.”
She gets the last word, because she disappears just like that in the same swirl of flickering lights that she appeared.
“Cheater.” Snorting I walk over towards the candle blowing out the flame followed by each one.
“So, if your family are more into science. How did you lean towards magic?” Look at me keeping up.
Becky was bristling but saying nothing else. The mention of the bats made her tense, paths she didn’t want to see cross anytime soon. She wasn’t even sure how she would react, there was a lot of resentment and bad blood that resided with the Langstroms and that bat family. There wasn’t a point on saying much, she did enough damage by mentioning where Khalid was.
It just seemed easier to just shift uncomfortably and listen. More names taken in, two she was quite familiar with but again she remained silent. His mother seemed familiar with the landscape, he had ties in the city yet he said he was just visiting. He didn’t appear to be a student but he was young and deft enough to blend in and make use of the grounds. Hell, it was probably the safest place in the city to be sneaking about. Aside from the few random attacks and incidents that have occurred, it was better than being out on the streets.
“I’ve always been drawn to it. I’m not any good, mind you. A few things that feel like second nature but in practice? I’m lousy. I’m plenty book smart but I don’t have that spark someone like you might have.”
She gave a glance around to the candles, the blade. He certainly had a gift for the craft even if he made it sound like it was very simple and easy.
“If you’re familiar with the city’s history at all, I’m from the other bat family. The dark business of the Langstroms isn’t a secret or anything.”
She took a deep breath, turning to zip up her bag. She was planning to leave that jar there, it was probably best it wasn’t left behind to cause a small panic with the faculty.
“I’m still trying to figure things out…but there’s some interesting infernal circumstances in my birth and my creation. Probably part of a bigger plot and I’m feeling a lot like a pawn in the middle of it right now. The ritual that happened on the Hunter’s Moon dropped some serious barriers. I’ve had some talents that I thought were just because of some of that bat DNA leaking into my own code. Whatever was holding everything else back was ripped off like a band-aid that night.”
It felt good to let the truth out, even if it wasn’t every last little detail.
“Your mother mentioned Blood and The Demon? They’re here. For now. If you need to consult with my mentor it’s as easy as dropping in on his class. I really don’t plan on telling them anything about this, or you. I’ll keep an ear out though, just like I have been. I don’t know how to interpret the signs too well but if anything foul steps foot on the Quad they’re probably going to regret it.”
“Sometimes it’s better to be competent than to be good. There are people who are amazing at it, but there well idiots. They lack sense, but you’re cautious and I’ll take someone that shows a bit of caution and restraint over someone that can do the amazing. Sometimes they just blow past the, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” common sense.”
Things like that caused major problems for anyone involved whether they wanted to be or not.
I needed to wait for the candles to cool before putting them away. “Being drawn means that you notice that most dismiss. Why…” Well, she just dropped nuggets right into my lap.
“I was going to say that there could be multiple reason why you notice them, but now I know.” Ritual. Did I want to know. That was the question. She was being very measured with her responses.
“I don’t know if it’s all connected in the sense that what I saw is directly related. However if there was a ritual and blood, lots of it was involved that might speak to why I saw a blood moon, however that’s the problem with visions they don’t always have to be literal. It’s why I hate them. I’m not blessed with them, but like I said earlier they can be given if someone wants you to have them. I think it was Khonsu. On occasion my mother was passed information that way.”
Which brings me to the all important fact. “One can ask for a vision, but there’s a cost. A bargain, but to be given one usually there’s an equal reaction to that action. Based on what you’ve said this may be check on the balance. Mostly speculation and conjecture, but it makes a bit of sense, but there’s a lot that I don’t know. It’s not my city. I don’t know what’s been going on. Khonsu’s vision may be for me to leave immediately or it may be something more.” As my mother said it’s for me to interpret.
“However, I’m more concerned with Khonsu’s concealment. If you’ve been getting weird feelings and things have been happening there is probably something going on, but my mother would tell me that sometimes there is the obvious and then the not so obvious and you have to decide which is more important. ”
“I’m not sure yet. I’m not sure how long it will take for my mother to send back confirmation. I’ve been told to leave.” That I did not share with my mother.
“Something is here and it does not want me hear. What I cannot say, but it is connected to the illness. That alone should compel me to act, but it’s goading me. It wants me to tip my hand. They want to see who I will call, who I will ally with or attempt recruit. Marshal the forces so to speak. Lead them into the unknown, but against who. It against what. It’s frustrating as hell.” It was not demons and rituals that drew me here something different something more.
“I think this ritual that involved you. Is one thing and this is another, but this ritual sent a flare and attracted something more or perhaps stirred something that was already here. Wouldn’t be the first time.” I wish I could be more certain, but I’m stepping into this in the middle of things.
“Perhaps I will speak with Blood, but I rather avoid the Demon if possible. I’ve heard stories My grandfather likened dealing with Etrigan to ice skating uphill.” But if I must I will, but only if I must.
“Sorry. Talking aloud about a lot of things.” There was a switch it was flipped and I gathered up the candles and set them on the table beside my satchel along with the other items. The athame was cleaned while I looked at Becky.
“The ritual affected you personally. Unlocking the power of your blood?” There was a seriousness that crept into my tone. Gone was the college student that seemed to be easy going and laid back. It wasn’t severe, but it was very much like my mother.
“If you don’t mind me asking what was life before the ritual? Did you always feel different?” It was so easy for me in a way.
“My father is an archaeologist with specialization Egyptology. My mother was many things at least that’s how I saw it, archaeology, medicine, then she trained to be a doctor and then she became a shop keeper. Magic and science both married together in an easy way.” It’s been in my life as long as I can remember.
“A lot of blood. It wasn’t just a blood ritual, it was a sacrificial ritual. I’ve a lot of guesses to the chain of events. I’ve tried to make a timeline with the facts I know and it seems to make sense but there’s a lot of questions. My conception is due to one being, but they would need help to even get to this realm. A sorceress was at the hospital during my birth, perhaps summoning a distraction while shielding my true nature or something. This ritual brought that shielding down. Blood was there for my birth…and my rebirth. If more had died during that ritual, I may have been in the thrall of them. A vicious little weapon to use as they please.”
She wasn’t planning on elaborating much further than that, she already explained there was some infernal involvement. All the same, she was keeping her distance and appearing to be relaxed and non-threatening. There was no reason to be on guard at the moment unless the young man turned on her. She didn’t give him reason to.
She snorted when he brought up the demon, it was in pure agreement.
“He’s not one for talking. He’s someone you want fighting beside you, not sharing a cup of tea with. I don’t know him that well, or Blood for that matter. He’s nice enough though, a good mentor, a good host.”
Life before the ritual? She tilted her head back to pull on what that felt like, it seemed out of reach now, like some distant dream she couldn’t quite put her fingers around.
“Wasn’t very social, always odd and incredibly stubborn. I mean, life was as normal as it could get living with a father that could turn into a bat. Kidnapped a few times, held for ransom, foster care for a stint or two when both parents got into the serum. My brother and I tried to stick together the best we could. Our parents will always love us, they’ve never hurt us. Their demons are just a little bit more pronounced. I always knew I was different. I didn’t ever believe it would be this different.”
It sounded all far from normal when she put it to words, anyone else might be dropping their jaw and might think it was horrible. For Becky it was just a matter of perspective and her perspective was pretty dark.
“Heh, I’ve been dabbling in Archaeology and Anthropology. I guess I was just hoping to travel the world and unlock the ancient secrets and raid some tombs. Maybe understanding how the world was before can help us understand our world now. I love the occult studies. Magic has touched so many civilizations and held more importance. It’s shoved to the shadows and obscure places now.”
She shrugged before speaking again, “I’ve had to adapt. At least now maybe I can help and maintain the balance and keep the normal folks from being messed with. Protect this realm and its people. This sickness that is happening? It’s got my interest. If you’re being watched then you just have to be a bit more deceptive about what you’re actually doing. Not that it matters, unless you’re in a completely warded off space you’re going to be watched by someone that’s damned determined enough.”
Her head tilted as a sudden thought hit her, “I use an old crypt. It was used by a gang as a hideout but it’s since been abandoned since The Bat took them down. Not exactly hallowed ground but if you need someplace safe and easy to ward off…”
I consider the things that I knew and the things that I didn’t. There were many levels to what was happening. I may need to speak with Zatara to determine how far it went, but then again perhaps it was best to step away from the tapestry. Champions were chosen from what I could tell.
It was best to focus on what was on in front of me rather than the larger picture. One thing that was certain opportunity existed for any that realized something had shifted.
“Your powers…your true nature was bound? Your parents, your brother, no one in your family is aware of what you’ve gone through?” Support in this matters help. Distance can also, but too much distance can be dangerous.
The things Becky described sounded quite mundane for her. That it was nothing more than another day in her life, but it sounds like this particular situation. The infernal one she has chosen to deal with on her own away from her family. Was it by choice or necessity?
“Not to sound uncaring or clinical, but if your creation is the result of infernal circumstances does this means that one of your parents is not your biological parents? Or…” There are means. There are always means, but usually the easiest and most direct approach is the natural approach.
As for a place to work. There was no need to be concerned about that.
“If necessary there is a place I can go. Thank you for the offer though.” There is always a place to go. It will be a little weird, but it is there.
“Has your teacher said anything about your family’s safety?” Everything else was on pause for the moment.
From what she could gather, Khalid was a sharp one and pretty much had it figured out. The questions didn’t really need to be answered but clarification is always nice. He made it sound like she was dealing with this alone and she really wasn’t. Blood had taken her in, Nightmare Nurse had been a supportive ally in digging for the truth and supporting her wishes to be better than what nature gave her. Those influences were very important to her and while she wasn’t always happy about the situation, she was thankful to have good people around her to support her.
“Bingo,” a finger gun was blasted at him.
“That being the truth, I don’t think it’s necessary to draw my parents into it. It’s pretty disgraceful and dishonorable and considering I have two parents with short fuses and transformable natures in the literal way, it’s not a good time. Considering the donor in this case, it fits right in with his M.O.”
She pressed her lips together, it was hard to seperate herself from this and not take it too personally. She worked out her anger already, many times over. She allowed herself some time to process and mope but now it was time to focus on the facts and the things she could change.
“So it’s just a matter of trying to understand why. My family could have just been a convenient target, not chosen for anything in particular. It was an opportunity. Beyond this, they’re safe. It’s safer I’m not too close to them right now and Blood is doing his best to support me. My mother and brother aren’t without means to protect themselves. Aaron is…forever going to be a Man Bat. My mother can shift. Hi, I’m Becky from the house of monsters, I used to be the normal one.”
Maybe those circumstances made it easier for her to deal with this, she seemed highly adaptable to those changes, she also fought every day to not be swallowed whole and not lose herself amid those changes. At her core, she was still still part human, she still cared, she wanted to do the right thing.
“I have a small but mighty support network. Two demons and a skilled and very knowledgeable occultist and demonologist. A lot of training physically and mentally, a code of honor to follow. Two names on my list to hunt down. I get the feeling that list may grow if things keep going the way they are. This is still my home, I don’t take kindly to others working their foul rituals here.”
I shake my head, because this was important. Perhaps I should put it a different way.
“If they are not required for support then they require you and your allies protection. If I understand you correctly. Someone unbound your abilities, removed the protection that was in place to release what was contained within your blood. In some ways you have been made whole.” If that made any sense. A part of who she was had been locked away.
“If they have not been handled then they still represent a problem for you and by association for your family. The cultists I’m less concerned about given the things that you’ve said about your family, but the infernal presence in your life? The one that wants to cross through. If this presence cannot get you to cooperate it will go through your family. You can ask your allies, but you said it yourself you were kidnapped.”
That alone should be enough. “It was one thing when everything was held in check, but now that it isn’t and you’re aware of who and what you are. If there is someone seeking you for whatever reason they will not stop until they get what they want and they will use whatever means they can to get it. Unlike the masked vigilantes you have no mask. Your life does not exist in separate buckets. Your life has been laid bare and given that this involves individuals of an infernal nature the question becomes is your strong enough to resist temptation?”
“Right. I’m trying the best I can to understand the why. That’s where I’m stuck and that’s what I’m trying to figure out among all of the other problems that have been unlocked in trying to understand myself.”
It was true, it felt a lot like being made whole but the other part was still very alien to her. She wanted to embrace it but there were the challenges of embracing a creature that was essentially meant to bring suffering and agony to the damned. She’d never admit outloud that she was scared of herself but it was scary.
“So I can’t disconnect myself from them. I could go at it alone but I will not be prepared. I could gain more allies and that will just be more allies put at risk. I’m aware of how this could domino. I’m aware of the danger it presents to everyone around me. Puts a lot of pressure to get better, get stronger and do it fast and get on finding my enemies and stopping them.”
It sounded easy when it was just put into words but it was a very steep and dangerous mountain she had to ascend. Any normal woman her age would be worried about the normal things like finals and socializing. This was the kind of stuff that could crush someone or make them stronger. By all appearances she looked to be pretty confident and set about it.
“There’s always going to be temptation. I’m not always going to succeed at resisting it. I haven’t. I’ll be facing the consequences of those bad choices. All I can do is do better and be responsible.”
It wasn’t the type of thing she could put on a mask and a costume for. He was right about that. This was too real and tied into her blood and bones. It would be something to take into consideration with every decision she made.
“Time will tell if I’m strong enough. Right now? All I can do is cling onto believing I am.”
It seemed pretty settled that all of her cards were now on the table. Names were left out, details left out but too much information and then Khalid may find himself pulled into this problem as well.
“What about you? You’ve got some interesting family.”
“Pace yourself. It can get a bit overwhelming if you take on too much too soon.” I say honestly.
“I think if you do that then you will be okay. The world will always feel like it’s coming apart. There will always be someone on in trouble, but that’s what support systems are for. Don’t take it on especially when you have some much to find out about yourself. Decide how much you want to take on and try to focus on that.” Sometimes you have to make the sacrifice.
“It’s not your temptations that concerns me. It sounds like you have people to support you.” It was the temptation of her family to get to her. That’s what one had to be worried about.
“Me? Well, let’s see. What more is there to tell?” Offering her a smirk I tip my head from side to side. “I was raised in the craft. My mother was strict by caring. She hates that I cribbed a spell from television.” Shrugs.
“I’m following int he family foot steps. I have to decide if I’m going to go to medical school or not. I haven’t decided. It requires a huge commitment, but I also inherited my mom’s shop. She did good work and I want to continue that, but I have figure out how I’m going to marry that with other goals. Can’t say that I’m too out of step with the family business. Archaeology. Medicine. Travel. Honing my craft. Expanding my mind.”
“Working on that. Small bites. Like I said, trying to get down a good foundation first. I don’t know how much you know about Blood. He used to be a knight. I started a crash course that’s a little more angled for modern times. So that and my studies plus my actual school studies. I’d like to get through the semester but I’m beginning to understand that there might be things more valuable to add to the knowledge bank through actual experience. All this kind of makes a traditional learning environment look pretty boring.”
It was at this point. The truth she’s been uncovering doesn’t quite match up with some of the junk that’s written in overpriced text books. It started to make traditional education feel like it was for the masses and not for those in-between worlds.
“Well, Homeopathic and New Age is catching on like wildfire. If you’re looking towards any kind of success in that realm I don’t think it would be too hard. Strictly speaking on the business end. How do you want to help? How can you help? Maybe those are the important questions. Don’t ask me for answers. I’ve written those questions down so many times the words start to look funny.”
Things tended to circle back around to the main problem at hand, what drew them here. Her challenge was one thing and it may be connected or just riding the crazy train along with this other event.
“If you need a blade or some muscle, you’ll reach out to me? Use your hack skills to ask for Vesper.”
He asked about her name before, she was hesitant to give it out but she felt he would use it responsibly. It was only a little play on a latin name of a species of bat, a nickname that stuck and that she’s adopted. If she had taken on a mask and a cape it would have been a pretty cool one.
“Foundation is good. Practical application sometimes is trial by fire. More often than not. Sometimes it doesn’t feel real until then. Not until you find yourself in the middle of it and you have to make a choice. Good or bad the choice has to be made and you have to live with it even if it haunts you for the rest of your days.” Nothing like that happening.
“Boring? That’s because you’re getting the trial by fire version. It can be pretty boring. It can be pretty amazing just like any craft. It’s all about what excites you, but..if I had to put my finger on it. Even though you have more questions and concerns there’s a certain relief about finding your tribe..so to speak. You’re no longer the outsider. The things that were oddities they’re normal, but not in that boring normal way. More in that amazing normal way.”
You’re no longer alone even if what you are comes with a lot of baggage.
“All big questions. Questions that I have to answer. I told my friend that I was keeping the shop. How I use it, that’s the next question, because there may be times I could be called away and if that’s the case then I may not be able it to run in the same capacity that my mom did. I have to find what works for me. No matter what anyone says we have to do what works best for us even if it’s not how we were taught. I’m my parents’ child, but I’m not my parent. I’m my teacher’s student, but I’m not my teacher.” Difficult lessons for everyone to learn, but it helps us carve our fate.
“If things keep me here and I require help trust me I’ll be calling.” Smirking he arched his brow when she said mentioned that her name. Her other name.
“If there is one thing that I can ask for you to pass to your allies. Tell them to be careful. I’m sure they are aware, but it is a dangerous time for all of us. Whether they care to believe it or not. Tell them to be wary of their darker natures. Change is in the air, the good, bad and uncertain. I can’t be certain, but this change this flux may be the reason why the cult chose to make its move upon you. To unsealed what had been sealed away. It may also explain the increased activity in the area. I’m sure Gotham is not the only area that’s experienced increased activity, but we’ve stepped into whether by design or by happenstance we have stepped into the web that Fate has woven around it even as the strands are done and undone all at once.”
I sigh a bit. “I’m sorry. I know this will only spark more questions. What I’m saying is there is a reason why all of this is happening right now. Your personal battle to chose your destiny is your part in it. In this moment you would be at your most powerful and your weakest depending on how you respond to the challenges that present themselves to you. I see that now. ” I cluck my tongue a bit.
“I needed to take a step back. The bigger problem is not ours to fight, but it ripples that have been set in in motion, those are our problems to deal with. A ripple set the cultist in motion. A ripple is drew out what has ever afflicted the students. Opportunities have emerged and people are taking advantage of them.”
So that with that said.
“Be careful. Lines are crossing, but I can’t see how yet. That’s what confounds me at the moment.” Not enough has happened.
“I guess all we can do is take one step at a time right? Besides Gotham’s in good hands with it’s own Evening Star looking out for it right?” Her name like many has multiple meanings and connections both of each work.
“I’m trying to approach this with a cautious step, trying to learn all I can before taking action. I’m learning that diving in head first is pretty dangerous business if I don’t have all the information pulled together.”
She wasn’t used to being this verbal, talking this much and digging really deep into the issues of things. Not that she wanted to avoid it but she thought her energy was better spent on other stuff. It was good though, hearing those words from Khalid. It wasn’t the first time that someone’s words planted a little hope in a pretty dismal and dark situation.
She hadn’t thought of the name in that way but in a way it seemed a little fitting, a bit of a bright spot. It got a rare smile from her.
“Take care of yourself, okay?”
A cheerleader in a perfectly-maintained Gotham University uniform bounces up to the front door of one Jason Blood’s manor. Her red-gold hair is bound up in pigtails and she carries a coffee can overflowing with crumpled dollar bills marked:
Honey-colored eyes are alight with enthusiasm toward her presumptive goal of raising funds, red, red lips wrapped around a Tootsie Pop. She bangs on the door with surprising force, knuckles rapping like she’s the police.
The longer weekend meant a few extra days spent to train. So far one of the positive sides to the intense training was that she was often too sore to get stir-crazy. If she wasn’t working with a blade, she was doing something else to keep fit and focused. There was also the bits that Becky did not research when she asked Jason Blood to teach her how to knight, all of the chores. It had been a different and humbling reality.
A relatively quiet evening attempting to stretch out her sore limbs and indulge in some music had turned into answering the door of the old house. Both eyebrows rose before she leaned against the doorway, arms crossed over her chest and the thin tank top as the cold of the air seeped into the warm home.
“Seriously?” she hissed, turning against the door frame to look behind her to make sure things were clear before turning back towards the Cheer Nurse.
She was considering for a moment if it was even polite to invite her in. It wasn’t her home, it wasn’t like she told anyone where Blood’s house was either. The Nurse didn’t need anyone to tell her where she was though, she seemed amazingly skilled and well…Becky was very aware she gave her one potent tool to keep tabs on her. Blood, life essence, the very important element of the human body and also a very powerful one in the occult.
“Fuck, just get inside before you freeze your ass off, if that’s even possible,” it was a rather perky posterior, there might have been a bit of a stolen glance.
Maybe the shock and the surprise wore off once the Nurse was inside and the door was closed, or she remembered her manners about being kind to someone that was doing a lot to help her out without asking for much in return.
“Would you like some tea? Coffee? Uh…welcome to Blood Manor. He’s going to know you’re here. Wards and stuff.”
Indeed the donation had played a part in things, allowed Asa to craft a deeper bond with Becky so as to keep better tabs on her; a blood connection was much easier than merely scrying, and allowed her to bypass most types of wards. That’s not to say she hadn’t also done as she’d said she would with it, though. There was just a bit of utilitarianism in the dual purposing of resources, and of course the cause of the request in the first place.
At the awkward greeting she beams around her sucker and rattles the coins around the bottom of the can before pulling the former from her mouth in a languid sort of way that would’ve made porn stars jealous. “We’re raising money for charity!” she calls out past Vesper, cupping a hand to her mouth to completely blow any pretense of secrecy here.
Laughing, she allows herself to be ushered inside. “For all you know it is!” the healer from Hell says, seeming to be in a chipper and upbeat mood. The skirt is an inch or two too short for regulation, but at the very least she’s wearing the right shorts beneath it. “Oh I know all that.” She waves off the notion of Jason knowing; it’s unimportant to her, for whatever reason.
“I’d take a bloody mary but I doubt your host has any saint’s blood handy.” She clears her throat, mostly for show. “You said to get in touch if I found anything ‘crazy’…”
“I don’t know what he keeps in the other pantry. Some things are off-limits.”
Rebecca was okay with that, she was a guest in his home and it was a kindness already to allow her to stay during her weekend training. A young woman in workout gear and another in a cheer-leading uniform looked very out of place in what was a home of an odd collection of antiques and a mish-mosh of decorating styles that dated back, well, further back than she ever wanted to research.
The kitchen at least had some modern amenities, a small breakfast table that was littered with books that Becky quickly got to shutting and placing in a careful pile. Some old classic literature and then some other more obscure works in various languages. If she wasn’t working out or doing chores, she was studying and sleeping.
It was the Nurse’s words that caused her to slam a heavy book on the table a little harder than she had intended. She wasn’t even sure what measure ‘crazy’ would be at. She just wanted to be warned if it had turned up anything that she may need to be aware of immediately.
“Yeah? I’m not active in that way so uh…nothing in that arena then. I’m not even sure what to expect, you’re a Nurse of a different kind.”
With the space clear she busied whatever worry she had with making a drink. Maybe a regular bloody mary would do, she could at least manage to make that even if it was missing a crucial ingredient. Being in college since she was younger got her a head start on bartending basics. One glass quickly became two in the light of any heavy hitting news. She was trying to be cool about it. She asked for this, she didn’t ask for anything to be easy. It certainly wasn’t going to be from this point on so at least she better get used to a little crazy.
Celery and a dash of pepper on top to finish off the glasses and she was bringing them back over, a bit hastily made and maybe a little heavy on the vodka.
“I truly appreciate you doing this and I appreciate the time and energy you’ve put into it…and I really mean it, just wanted to get that out in case I react in a nasty fashion. I’m going to really try not to.”
Asa rolls her eyes at that, but maintains a pleasant enough smile, setting the coffee can on a random shelf alongside some antiques. Maybe she’ll remember it on her way out, though she really doesn’t have any need for the money within. And most charities are scams, anyways.
Moving through Etrigan’s lair as an uninvited guest carries its own kind of thrills, though. She folds her arms and glances around, smile turning to smirk as she sees how his other half lives. “Awfully ostentatious,” she observes, shaking her head. The whiplike ponytails lash at her cheeks with the gesture.
After Becky mixes her drink, she takes a glass and lifts it to her lips, eyes closed as she savors it. “Not quite the same, but I do appreciate a bartender that pours with a heavy hand.” She licks an errant droplet from her lips before taking a seat at the dinner table.
“Oh, you’re probably going to react in a nasty fashion,” the Nightmare Nurse confesses in a weary tone of voice. “I’ve run your blood and the news is a little disturbing. But! You can still opt out of hearing it, if you don’t think you’re ready.” The blonde waits, patient as a judge, for a response one way or another before pushing onward.
She shrugged as she looked around the room. Ostentatious was one word but the man had lifetimes to collect fortunes, memories, stuff. It kind of made sense in her mind when she put into perspective his age and experience.
“I don’t know him well enough to really say what it is. The study’s nice though. Lots of good reading material, plenty delving into the more infernal realm.”
That’s about all she could say about it. It would take her a lifetime to read everything and study every text that he had collected over the ages. The very thought that she could spend the rest of her life just trying to absorb it all in and still not even get close to reading everything was just daunting.
Before she switched topics she reached for her own glass, fearlessly taking a few gulps to prepare herself. It was just easier to try and brace herself but at the same time she was trying to keep her posture loose and she was even swirling the liquid around with the celery before pulling it out to take a nibble.
“Band-aid has to come off sometime,” it was the brave thing to say. Part of her didn’t want to even acknowledge there was even more to this mess she was dealt.
At the same time, it has presented some really good opportunities to do good. It was just going to depend on how she handled it and what she decided to do with the information.
As someone many times older than even Jason Blood, Asa has little to show for it beyond a head full of memories – a mixture of good and ill, most for the most part inconsequential. Just like many, if not the majority of, these relics. “Almost as if he were preparing for this day, when he had a student of his own,” she muses, “Or else his memory’s starting to go. Once you get past five hundred I suppose that’s one of the first things that does.”
She purses her lips and nods as Becky steels herself for the news. “I like your pluck, kiddo, but you’re gonna want to be sitting down for this,” She pulls her celery as well, biting it in half with a loud crunch before seeming to swallow it without chewing. The presumptive demoness waits for her directions to be followed, setting her glass down on the table.
“Your bloodline traces back to ancient Sumeria, which, congratulations, makes your devil daddy a fair bit older than your mentor.” Savvy as she is, she tends to avoid using his name during conversations like this. Especially in the Demon’s own home. “Well, ‘daddy’ is a… bad word to use, considering his proclivities” She shakes her head and sighs softly.
“He’s a real bad one, but as I said before, you don’t have to be. His name… is Nergal.”
“Fine,” she sat without any hesitation. As if sitting was going to make it any better if it was really horrible news.
Again, she attempted to keep her senses distracted by nibbling at the celery. She was listening intently though, taking in the words very carefully, analyzing them as if they may be false. Did the nurse have any reason to lie to her? Not really. She had been truthful all this time, she had helped her and aided her without expecting anything in return. Unspoken to the blonde, Becky was willing to help her if she had ever needed it in the future. Alliances were good, even if it wasn’t quite a friendship, at least it was something.
There was a hard swallow as she raised the glass to her lips to absolutely drain the glass. The hot sauce she mixed in was making her eyes water and making sweat bead on her forehead by the time she set the glass down.
“So…my father isn’t my biological father…”
Which also meant someone else had deceived her mother and taken advantage of her.
“…why did I drink all of that? I’ve read some stuff. I’m familiar with the name. I just…why my family? Why me? Now all this fuckery too?”
The questions were just leaking out but she brought a hand to her mouth to keep anything else from spilling out, including the contents of her stomach but even that was becoming a challenge. It felt like she was suddenly dipped in an ice-cold pool.
Asa clasps her ungloved hands together, watching Becky’s response as carefully as she listens to it. “Something like that, yes.” She sighs and shakes her head. “I can’t really speculate as to motive, but I think that as far as your family goes it was largely incidental. It had to happen to someone, and where you’re concerned it’s not personal, just part of a greater plan.”
She shrugs a bare shoulder, her expression inscrutible. “Unfortunately for them, you managed to evade their trap. I’m not sure how that has affected things for them, if they have any contingencies or if they’ll try for you from another angle – they made quite an investment in the expectation that you’d turn, and not just the mystical kind.”
All of it had been working toward this one unfulfilled outcome. The clutch of demonic children, the reason that Becky alone had survived undetected. Nightmare Nurse lays it all out calmly, rationally, as if she’s not speaking of grand metaphysical crimes at all so much as discussing the ingredients of her world-famous birthday cake at her local branch of the Oprah Book of the Month Club.
“I’m sure taking it personal,” it was said between gritted teeth.
Not even a second later she was taking deep breaths and whispering a count to ten before she could pull her words back together. She wanted to smash something. Logic in those deep breaths said that wouldn’t get anywhere except in a whole lot of trouble with her mentor. She could smash something during practice. She could hack and slash and destroy something to absolute utter tiny little pieces and nobody would be hurt because of it.
“There’s another common denominator. The Demon,” a brow was raised. Was that coincidence? Jason admitted he had been keeping an eye on her, had seen her grow up and deal with all the challenges of having a father that was a demon of a different kind. The ripples it caused in her family, a family so desperate to stay together and try and patch together some semblance of normalcy. It was like living with the Munsters.
“I don’t want my family knowing. It will open doors that can’t be closed. I’m not even sure how to tell this to my mentor.”
“Of course you are, you’re a person,” the immortal replies, her voice taking on a matronly, sympathetic tone as she reaches out to place a hand on Becky’s arm. Doing her best to keep the teenager calm, so as to avoid an unpleasant outburst. The compassion is more than utilitarian, though, genuine in ways that those with a better understanding of what Asa actually is might not understand. Or believe.
She frowns, nodding hesitantly at that assertion. “Yes, I think he’s a linchpin in all of this as well. I used the word ‘they’ earlier because it’s more than just Nergal operating alone. The earthbound resources required for this scheme are beyond his command.” Sucking in a breath through her teeth, she continues: “I understand that this is an awful lot to put upon your shoulders, but you’re not alone in this.”
For now, perhaps it’s best to leave something for Becky to work after. To withold information until she’s asked, rather than simply laying it out, so she waits on that. Waits until Vesper is prepared to hear it.
She still felt sick. Any kind of consolation at this point wasn’t doing a lot to soothe her nerves. The words mattered though, trying to discover the logic of this situation felt a little like disconnecting herself from it in a way, even if she was very much tied in.
“I remember saying that it wouldn’t change how I was going to do what I want to do. I still stand by those words. This has just plopped down in the middle of it.”
She quickly changed the subject, it wasn’t going to fix how she was feeling but it might distract her thoughts for a little while.
“I asked Jason to train me like a knight. Just a badass lady knight that was raised Athiest. I thought it might help me set a good standard of values and honor for myself. It’s also exhausting. Which is a good thing for me. I guess hearing all of this makes me just want to be better than what was dealt to me even more. I’m not really that powerful yet, I don’t know enough. I feel like a stupid tiny pawn in it all right now. Maybe that’s how it is, for now. I have to trust in my mentor right now, and those trying to help me.”
Asa stops trying to press the issue, allowing Becky’s statement to stand on its own. At her age it’s important to be heard and understood, and that means it’s on the blonde to show that she hears and understands instead of trying to dismantle her statement and show her why it’s wrong. So she nods and allows the topic to shift, still wearing a look of beatific patience.
Smiling at the choice, she nods approvingly. “Just don’t let him talk you into a vow of chastity; you’ll definitely regret it,” she says with a wink, thinking on Lancelot and so many other knights whose libidos proved to be their undoing. And millenia further in the past, oftentimes it was at Nightmare Nurse’s own hands, though those days are long past.
Long, long past.
“Believe it or not, I was once a stupid tiny pawn too. Still am, I suppose – sometimes. But you’ll get to a point where you can control your destiny and make your own decisions. The hard part is getting there, escaping your nature and the machinations of your elders to become… your own woman.” There’s something wistful in her words, reflective almost.
“I’ve been reviewing the old rules of courtly love. Wasn’t published until a while after his time but it’s enough to make a modern day woman and feminist roll her eyes and spit in rage. No silly vows like that. Maybe I have a while to explore all of those carnal desires and romantic urges, maybe I don’t. They’re still there.”
The way the Nurse said it made it seem like it would take a long time to achieve that end. It was something to work towards. It was better than being dragged down by the facts. There was going to be some shameful over indulgence of alcohol and destruction in the very near future, all the same.
Rebecca reached out to take the Nurse’s hands in her own, giving them a squeeze. It was a ridiculous looking scene, holding the cheerleader’s hands over empty glasses of Bloody Marys.
“You’re a good nurse demon lady. I’m very lucky and blessed that you care enough to help me and listen to me. Thank you.”
The Nightmare Nurse waves her hand dismissively. “Oh, that’s mostly bullshit. With a few unfortunate exceptions, anyways.” She smirks, the confidence in her assertion born of the fact that presumably she had lived through it. She blinks in surprise as Becky takes her hand, but squeezes back and smiles warmly at the gesture. “Magic always has a price,” she says, “but for you… your thanks are more than enough.”
There’s more to it than all that, of course. Her Oath, and the promise she’d made to Zatanna, but any noble action could be flensed if exposed to rigorous and methodical scrutiny. She’s trying to do the right thing here, regardless of any other circumstance, because: “This is the path I chose, to heal a sick world and give comfort to those that I can.
“But I was once in your same situation. And I was much, much worse, but even I was given the chance to change my ways, to become… my own person. You deserve the same, Becky. You deserve it far more than I ever did.”
“Yeah, you said something about complete annihilation or something like that. Glad you didn’t get to that point,” she offered a wink with those words. Apparently the Nurse WAS worse.
She released those hands without holding them too awkwardly long, “Someday, when I can help you, I expect you to ask and I will be there to help. No arguing that. Knightly shit, remember?”
There was also a frown and a bit of a whisper as she leaned in a bit closer, “Don’t tell the yellow guy I was mushy. He’ll call me Sissy Girl instead and I’m still plotting how best to get on his nerves. I was kind of thinking sweetness and kindness might tone him down a notch.”
“Something like that,” the cheerleader agrees, giggling girlishly. “And so am I – I’m not my father, and neither are you.” She leaves it at that, as it’s already more than she’s told most anybody about herself. But even if Becky were to dime her out, there are so many contradictory stories out there about the Nightmare Nurse for those who go looking that it’d just be white noise.
Even Zatanna doesn’t know.
She nods solemnly when the girl makes a demand of her own. It’s sensible, and shows that she’d been paying attention to her lessons. It’s also a little bit binding, though also beneficial to the demoness herself. “I don’t forget,” is all she has to say to that, reassuring and possibly also troubling.
Literally crossing her heart with her fingers, she swears a little vow of her own. “I won’t narc you out for having feelings, don’t worry. And it’s not as though I have much to say to him, anyways. Though he certainly wishes otherwise, or so I’m told.”
“He nearly had you executed…” it takes a moment before the facts of the situation dawn on her. She merely had to throw it into a different perspective to realize that the action may have meant something else. She rose a hand to cover her face and sighed deeply into her palm.
“He only likes to fight, he’s not about much otherwise. I prefer it that way,” there was no denying that he was quite a sight to see in battle and recently she had to a chance to slow down enough to actually see how ferocious of a beast he was.
“I’ll give you a ring if anything else concerning pops up. I’m going to destroy some dummies to avoid practice tomorrow.”
Throughout the dawning of Becky’s realization, the healer from Hell merely grins like the cat who caught the canary. She has little else to add to a discussion about Etrigan, other than, “If I had to choose, I’d rather deal with your mentor. But then again…” She lifts a shoulder, leaving the implication in the air. Something she’d said a while ago, that she isn’t quite convinced that Jason Blood has as much control over his alter-ego as he believes.
Maybe he would prove her wrong.
She finishes off her spicy beverage, then chomps another quarter of the celery, dropping the top of the stalk back into the filmy glass. “Take care of yourself, Rebecca. Nurse’s orders.” She winks as she heads for the exit, pointedly leaving the coffee can behind.
She hadn’t really placed her mentor into that line of thought. Well, that wasn’t true, she has but it was short lived and quickly dismissed. The responsibility to herself to learn and get better and get control of herself took priority over entertaining any wild thoughts that had crossed her mind. That was usually the case most of the time, her experience with men was very limited. The future wasn’t looking too much brighter so it was always easier to throw those romantic notions aside. She nearly choked on her own spit when Asa said those words.
“He’s easy on the eyes but kind of like a bland onion. A lot of layers to dig through to find something interesting, I guess. I don’t know. Maybe he’s not. I’m not going to find out for you.”
Those were her last words while narrowing her eyes at the nurse and gently clucking her tongue. She was already gone when she had noticed the Charity money was still sitting on the shelf. It was awfully tempting.
For whatever events happened over the weekend, the week resumed its dull and mundane course of classes, homework, and studies. Rebecca had miraculously managed to catch up and was sinking back into the role of just another student at Gotham University. Despite the fact her studies here would get her no further than a piece of paper, her duty to her family’s wishes and a desire for some grip on the mundane kept her appearing and participating.
There was only one blip during her Archeology class, a note brought to her by one of the student aides. When she opened it and read the official looking document she nearly thumped her knee against the bottom of the half desk so hard she nearly yelped.
Miss Rebecca Langstrom, your STI. labs are in. Please report to the Student Health Center immediately.
Never had she ever shoved a piece of paper so deep within her bag so quickly before, as if it were horribly incriminating evidence.
She mumbled as she moved along the row of stadium seating to make her way towards the Health Center. Ir was probably a mixup, it was definitely a mixup. She’s never had to go to the nurses there. She never had need to. Anything she could treat herself, she did. Mundane life came with its mundane annoyances.
The student health center at Gotham University is the same as it is on any campus, but that’s not where Becky goes. Not really. Upon stepping through the door, it looks much as expected but it is strangely vacant, shelves full of obscure alchemical ingredients rather than medicine and bandages that look more akin to mummy-wrapping. A single figure in a somewhat risque, purple-black uniform sits faced away from the door, dimly lit by flourescents dangling precariously from the ceiling.
Nightmare Nurse, MD seems to perk up at her little desk as she senses the intrusion, spinning around on her stool and throwing her arms wide. “Becky with the good hair!” she announces in a sing-songy kind of voice. “I do hope you’ll excuse the skullduggery; I had to get your attention somehow, and we didn’t wanna turn this little appointment into a menage a trois.” She winkingly doesn’t quite mention The Demon by name.
Nor noted faculty member Jason Blood, of course.
She stands off of the stool and the scenery seems to shift in peripheral vision, like it’s always sort of been that way: scattered papers, creeping rust. A nurse’s office after the zombie outbreak, perhaps. “Did you have to eat the heart?” she chides, clucking her tongue.
Rebecca stood a bit stunned in the doorway, shifting the weight of her backpack onto her other shoulder. She was taking it all in, the whole change of scenery and the reality of the situation. Her facade of badassery was waning for a moment before she took a breath and dropped her bag onto the floor.
“It’s fine. Not that this situation is fine but…whatever you’ve got to do,” she looked more annoyed than anything at the mention of her Mentor.
It was the very reason she insisted on having some space, on at least having her weekdays free to just be a student. It’d slow her training, sure, but it created a much healthier balance for her. Becky didn’t hesitate to move around the room and get a closer look. The place looked like a bomb and a flood had gone through it. Just a bit worn and decayed, a haven for tetanus.
“It wasn’t going to do anything and destroying every last bit of that woman pleased me. He offered, I don’t think he expected me to take him up on it.”
Rebecca shrugged, it was disgusting but her body handled it just fine. Part of her maybe even enjoyed it. It was a small pleasure in an otherwise humiliating situation. Becky took her lessons from it though.
“I was the picture of obedience in a realm I have no experience of, with beings I have little experience with. You were probably watching it all. How bored did you get?”
Asa glances around the ruins they find themselves in. Crumpled medical sheets swirl about her heeled boots. “Oh, I admit it’s less than ideal but we can’t be spied upon here. Or scryed upon.” The space in Between, neither reality nor Oblivion. Not Hell or Heaven but a transitory state that exists outside of time as a mortal or even an immortal might understand it. Someplace alien to all except for the ‘woman’ standing before Rebecca.
And even she would by all appearances rather be someplace else.
She rolls her eyes and steps past the girl to close the office door. Outside, rather than a hallway there is a swirling maelstrom, utter chaos and annihilation. The portal, as subtle as it had been, is gone now. At least there aren’t any windows in here. “It’s not the physical effects that have me worried, sweetie, so much as the transgression it represents. You know that’s still cannibalism, right?” Her tone is one of a concerned parent, or maybe a stern medical professional, as she turns to lean back against the door with her gloved arms crossed over her chest.
When asked about her boredom, however, something sparkles in her honey-colored eyes. “Luckily for you I’m not prone to boredom; living a few strange aeons’ll break anyone of that nasty little affliction, I’m sure.”
“Good, as to expected when dealing with medical professionals and patient doctor confidentiality…”
The joke fell a little flat and dull. Was it a transgression? It didn’t feel like one at the time. A lot of what she felt and what she thought wasn’t right these days. It usually left her with a lot of regret later and too much time spent mulling over it before finally submitting to it being wrong. Maybe it was wrong. She was being told it was wrong.
She tried not to look past the Nurse before, it didn’t look pleasant outside the door and it was easier not to think too much about where she was at exactly. That could lead to questions and maybe she didn’t want the answers. She did respect the Nurse’s knowledge though, having supposedly been around since before time was a fad. Becky was a spec in the perspective of things.
Then there was the ‘Mom’ tone which immediately had her looking to the toes of her boots, “I’ll try not to do it again.”
Pursing her lips, the monster blows a stray lock of hair away from her face and pushes off from the door, stepping closer to Becky and reaching out to gently touch her on the chin. Urging her to look up but not forcing her to. Her sterile gloves have a vaguely antiseptic scent and feel somewhere between rubbery and leathery, a material that isn’t quite right but then neither is Asa.
“I’m not upset, you know,” she assures the young woman. “We’ve all had our growing pains. Just try to be a little less like the demons you’re hunting, hm? Sometimes, when Etrigan makes a suggestion it’s not coming out of your best interest.” She pauses, her hand falling away from Rebecca’s face, then amends: “Actually, safer to assume it never is.”
She turns away dramatically, stalking toward a shelf and rummaging through various phials and tinctures. “Why don’t you try to make some friends your own age?” she asks, changing the subject. “Self-sacrificial crusades are all well and good but I always figured the point was to be mourned afterwards.” Spinning on her heel, she holds a vial close to her chest and then extends it toward Becky in both hands.
“For that, you need mourners! Voila, a friendship potion.”
“That makes things complicated. This whole thing already is. I feel like I don’t even know myself, I mean I do…but I don’t. Closest thing I know to being even close to what I am and I can’t trust them. I don’t know his motives or his agenda and he’s not the talking sort.”
The conversation took a wild turn in a different direction in a pretty dark way. A reminder or her mortality, a reminder of where this path goes. Everyone’s path ended somewhere though, didn’t it?
“I appreciate the concern put into my mourners or lack there of but isn’t that cheating? I can try…but friends usually have things in common. I’m got very not common things going on with me, that’s kind of been my thing even when I was a kid. Couldn’t have friends over, can’t have a sleepover. I’m not trying to whine, just stating the facts.”
She stood on her toes to peek at the vials, “Anything there with a sudden understanding on what’s going on with me so I know what I’m working with? Without the unpleasant side-effects of making my head explode or sudden death?”
“He’s really not, is he? And I don’t think Jason has as much control over him as he thiiinks~” The whole mentorship setup isn’t what she would’ve gone with in a perfect world but there aren’t a whole lot of people around that would take in a young demoness. And Asa isn’t going to tutor her. She’d promised Zatanna that she’d be hands off, in fact, and even this little checkup sort of skirts the edge of the line there. “Picking apart the useful from the detrimental’s something you’ll have to learn along with all the rest of it. That’s life, though; you should’ve seen me when I was your age.” She laughs, a bit mawkish, sounding both sweet and strangely malevolent.
Jiggling the vial, she holds it out insistently. Inside is a translucent purple liquid that has a similar consistency to water. “It’s not cheating, it’s medicinal! Everyone needs an edge sometimes, just take it and drink it when you want to try to engage someone in conversation.” The fact of the matter is, it’s grape Kool-Aid with traces of Xanax and Acetaminophen. But ‘friendship potion’ sounds a lot better when trying to hand it to a young adult. “Or pour it out as soon as you’re back on campus,” Asa pouts. “Trust me when I say there’s nobody like me, and I have friends. You’ll find them in the strangest of places.”
The containers on the shelves have all sorts of grotesqueries inside, like miniature eyeballs or pickled cockroaches or a worm with teeth that run down its entire length floating in a thick green syrup. There are also tins, one literally labelled Snake Oil and some in a language that isn’t of Earth at all and hurts to read. “You’re you – there’s no pill that’s gonna propel you into adulthood, I’m afraid,” the Nightmare Nurse says as she slips back onto her stool. “You’re a woman who owns herself and you’ve got to learn all the responsibilities that entails.” Just like I did, she doesn’t say.
She takes the vial, if only to get her to stop pouting. It doesn’t mean she’s going to drain the contents anytime soon. This fairy godmother might just be some vile thing plotting something else on the side. Then again, Rebecca was somewhere and nowhere in particular and couldn’t get her bearings and the Nurse has done nothing at all to hurt her.
She slid the vial into her pocket to be done with it, something to explore another time, or something to just flush down the toiler.
“That sounded a lot broader than I meant it. I’ve been trying to hit the books. I’ve been trying to figure how much of what I am is from my parent’s experiments and some pretty awful summoning magic. I spent a lot of time wishing and hoping I wouldn’t turn into the beast my father is and instead I’ve become something else entirely. Some similarities in abilities but not in others…and I haven’t really pushed myself to what could be my full potential. If you have anything that could point me in the right direction, at least I could get myself book smart about it. It’s really easy getting lost in the species and types and the bloodlines and everything weaving in and out of civilizations, cultures, and beliefs.”
The rest would just have to come with time and experience, she knew that. There was no instant way to become an expert at something, or to fully understand the many potentials that lay in front of her. Even the concept of adulthood was just vague. Even thinking about it was enough to make her rub her temples in frustration.
“I really hope there’s not a moment where I can’t learn something or adapt myself or do something differently. That’s not living.”
Asa smirks at the reply, having sort of guessed what the girl really meant though she’d been genuine as well. And she continues to be, saying, “Does it matter to you? The percentages, the minutia – what exactly you are? I’ve always found it best to not have a firm understanding of one’s limitations, so as to better exceed them.” She reaches out, pantomiming booping Rebecca’s snoot. “If you want my advice, figure out how to deal with the you that you understand now. If you don’t, then I’ll see about providing some literature.”
With a sigh, she comes up off of the bench, the rusty joints creaking at the shift of weight. The wheels must be jammed completely, as it doesn’t move at all. “Evolution happens between generations; you can be dynamic but being ever-changing is a drag. Even faeries draw a line somewhere.” Humming, she goes to a different table, procuring a sealed paper sleeve with a syringe inside, which she tears open with her teeth. “If you want the full nine-yards geneological report then I’m gonna need some blood,” she admits as she fastens the needle in place.
“I’m not bound by limits, words, or titles.”
It was an annoyance she had been coming to terms with. Words being attached to her that held certain unspoken meanings. The best she could do was do her best to ignore them and rise above them. She was just challenged in that every step she took getting closer to understanding herself, she did something awful.
“Let’s meet in the middle on this then. Could you hold off on passing the results until I have come to some sort of understanding with myself? Maybe it won’t matter as much then, or maybe it will answer some questions. Just uh…warn me if I’m going to sprout extra heads or if you see anything alarming.”
She wrinkled her nose as she pulled up her sleeve. She hoped there wouldn’t be anything startling, if there was, someone would have sensed it by now.
“I know I’ve got to take my lumps along the way, that it’s going to be hard and humiliating. I’ve got some big egos looming over me, sometimes it feels crushing and I just want to claw out from it.”
“Good,” is all she says to that, admiring the sentiment. It’s not exactly true but it’s a necessary bit of self-deception, and Asa’s hardly going to stand in the way of Rebecca’s journey of discovery. She gently holds the (much) younger woman’s arm as she sticks the needle in; as someone with tens of thousands of years of practice, she is probably the best at this. There is no sting, just the slight sensation of pressure and then the syringe is full. There’s not even a stray drop of blood after she’s done, no need for the Hello Kitty bandaid she carefully puts over it nor the green lollypop she produces from seemingly nowhere and sticks in Rebecca’s mouth.
“I’ll sit on them until you ask, unless I see ‘anything alarming’,” she promises afterward, unscrewing the needle and tossing it lazily over her shoulder. The vial of blood she tucks away for later. No stage magic but real magic, as it simply disappears. No need for the Between to get a taste for Vesper. “I know what you mean, it can be very stressful but sometimes it’s important to be instructed by someone that knows better. Even if they’re completely insufferable and hell-bent on stopping you from purging the earth of all life.” She wrinkles her nose and takes a step back. “You don’t have to pretend to be okay with it, though. Just understand why it’s helpful, and if you can’t see it then know it’s not there.”
For once she was glad it wasn’t some grand display done with a blade and leaking blood over her palm or anything silly like that. Just the slightest prick, a band-aid and a…lollipop. Her brows knit in confusion when the lollipop was shoved into her mouth. She listened for a moment before she pulled the candy from her mouth and gave the Nurse a tilt of her head.
“It’s not…that bad. You’re right though, and maybe this is a challenge for them too. Okay, maybe at least one of them.”
To be perfectly honest she didn’t think the demon really gave a damn one way or another but he was tolerant of her presence and at least tried to keep her out of harm’s way.
“Thank you, Nurse.”
Asa nods, patting Vesper’s shoulder and gently steering her toward the door. “If it ever gets too bad, just whisper my name three times into a foggy mirror and you can talk to me about it.” She doesn’t expect that the girl will take her up on it, which is a big part of why she’s offering it so freely. And anyways there isn’t really a spell to summon her, though there are a few that will get her attention.
Once opened, instead of Annihilation the portal now leads back to school. Apparently there is some sort of glamour in effect as those folk who walk past don’t even stop to look at the eccentrically-dressed nurse and her young charge, or even the creepy office itself, full of many oddities and as disposable as anything by necessity is in that realm.
“My dear friend is fond of a little saying: the impossible isn’t a limitation, it’s an invitation. You can find a way to thrive, to be who you want to be. Just… be smart about it; I know you’re a clever one.”
Under the light of the moon, the disciples gathered for their grand ritual. The Giordano Botanical Gardens was a beautiful place frequently visited by many in the past, back when the rooftop gardens were a beautiful and lush place and it was well tended to. It has since turned to ruins, a former battleground for several foes that had occupied the space. Blood had spilled on that ground and over time the neglect and lack of care had made the space quite desolate. A few bits of plants and shrubs hung on, several rumored to be quite dangerous to touch or be near. Those dangers lurk thanks to the lovely green champion of nature that no longer occupied the space. Echoes of the battles remained, panes of glass shattered on the greenhouses. The lone large statue at the center had bits and pieces removed. The lovely visage of the angel remained vigilant, sword held high, shield on his other arm. His face was stained by rains, neglect, bits of moss that clung to his stony features.
The gathering took place under the light of the full moon. The Hunter’s Moon of October held a great spiritual significance to this ritual. In the quiet and the still of the evening they gathered, preparing and spreading their tools around the space in silence. The robed and hooded figures chanted in a whisper as they placed their candles, their crystals and carefully laid out the lines of black salt upon the dead earth.
One remained in the center of the star that began to form as the lines joined, the very tip pointing to the south, the reverse of a standard pentagram. There were twelve others, five assigned to creating the unholy symbol. Three stood at the odd points of the star, the southernmost and the North East and North West, focused on the chanting, sleeves rolled back as they held their palms outstretched to the side of them. They asked for blessings of the moon to protect the ritual, they called for the dark one to hear their words, to find them at this infernal site.
Four remained, patrolling the perimeter, blades in hand as they watched from the four cardinal direction of the rooftop for anyone that may attempt to disrupt the ritual. It seemed by their weapons that they were ready to use lethal force if necessary to halt anyone from interrupting until they had achieved their goal.
Rebecca and Jason had been preparing for this event. The more difficult part was tracking down where it was going to happen. Their evening hunts had gotten them closer and closer, clues laid for them to follow. At every moment they had thought they had caught up to the Cultists they were always too late. There were merely signs of them having been there, puddles of wax, smeared lines of salt and symbols on the ground made from blood. They roughly translated into single words ‘Demon’ ‘Rise’ ‘Great’ ‘Harvest’. Another symbol was sometimes found. To those familiar to the city, it was a very familiar one. The outstretched blackened wings of the bat. To others with more knowledge of demonology, it was coincidentally the symbol of an old god, a demon, a being that once roamed Gotham where buildings and streets have since covered up any remains of the destruction it had caused.
It took some old fashioned detective work, plotting the locations on the map to locate the final site. How did they know it was the final site? Their hunts had taken them to seemingly every corner of the city. Random locations, or seemingly random until they were marked on a map. The familiar star shape taking form if lines were connected. The very epicenter of the shape was the gardens.
Rebecca had come dressed for war. The street armor she had created seemed good enough to protect her. The important thing to her was that she wasn’t weighted down and unable to move. She didn’t have the resources or the tools to create much, most of it was stuck together out of bits and pieces she could scavenge from second-hand stores or junk she had come across. Her weapon she had commissioned from one of the art students in exchange for some tutoring. It wasn’t fine crafted by any means but it was balanced and sharp and light enough to work into the skills she had built up over her childhood. It was all she needed, that and a little warpaint.
“I hear nine,” she murmured softly, crouched behind the stonework that surrounded the gardens. She focused here sensitive sense on the voices, eyes closed, head tilting. They didn’t have a plan yet and she wasn’t going to jump into action. This was one point where she submitted to the skills of the immortal veteran warrior. Jason of the Blood would know what to do, how to approach. The most important thing was stopping this before they finished. Stop whatever impending doom they may summon and rain down upon the city.
This wasn’t Jason’s first time taking down a cult, or battling cultists, or … anything they were doing right now. During the week and as the pair investigated, Jason could see how talented the young woman was and where her potential was. Hopefully if she continued to want to partner with him, she’ll listen to his advice and grow. As the pair ascended down onto the cultist ritual area, Jason would look around. Nodding to what she said, he’d kneel down and press his palm to the ground.
The ritual was growing stronger, he could feel the magical energy building up. It’s cascading crescendo threatening to explode. “Four are patrolling the outside. Then there are more on the inside, I cannot pinpoint them. I will draw two in here, then you take care of them from where you are.”
Jason wasn’t going to transform, not yet. Etrigan would be needed later, but Jason didn’t want any of the cultists killed. At least, not right now. Throwing some pebbles towards a couple of the guards, he waits to get their attention before darting into the alleyway where Rebecca would be able to take care of them easily enough. The last two were on the other side. Moving over to Rebecca, he, along with her slowly move up towards the main ritual area. The chanting was growing stronger, the very Earth seemed to heave with every verse of the incantation. Soon, they were going to need to stop them.
“If we stop them now, the energy could continue building and then detonate, destroying several of these buildings in the process. We must wait until they’re nearly complete. Then, I believe, i’ll be able to channel the energy somewhere else so that whatever they summoner, will be unable to come.”
His idea of drawing them was throwing a rock? The action earned a hard bit of side-eye from the young woman. Still, it was an effective and simple strategy. It had the effect of startling the armed men, they called out, alerting the others and the four started to descend upon the two warriors.
There was a lethality with how they moved in, blades drawn, moving quickly. They had some skill and perhaps beneath the robes were stronger than they had appeared. Rebecca took on her two with a snarl, raising her blade defensively.
Jason could hear the blades clash from his location as the young woman began to fight her two opponents. What had been a quiet a approach was quickly turning into a full-out brawl. The two remaining came at him with a similarly fierce approach. They needed to get close to strike and came at him with blades glinting in the moonlight. Whatever he may be able to deflect with his own blade, they countered back with more force.
“You will die for interfering! Your blood will only fuel our ritual!”
Jason’s own blade came up to block whatever strikes these cultists tried on him. The cloaks they wore seemed to be heavier than normal cloaks. Able to take a beating and keep the cultists alive. They were awfully strong. These men weren’t your typical cultists. They were far stronger and much more durable. “Yes. It is nothing i’ve not heard of before.“ saying as they told he’d die, and then use his blood.
Deflecting a blow from one of the two men, he parry’s it off to the side, stepping out of the way as the man tried to recover. Sticking his foot out, Jason trips the robed man and followed up with a strong strike of his pommel against the back of the man’s neck. This left him open for the other, though Jason decided to wear his armor underneath his clothes so when the blade struck, it slide off the chainmail shirt. It’ll hurt later, but for now, Jason kept his arm.
“Rebecca. How are you fairing?” asking with a grunt as Jason came up quickly inside the man’s reach and slammed his shoulder into the other cultists body to knock him away so Jason could recover and start thinking how they were going to stop this ritual.
Rebecca was faring decently well. She danced with the blade, kept out of reach of their jabs and swipes. Anything that did get too close was deflected by the clothing she wore leaving only cuts in leather in their wake and thankfully, no blood. She may have spent too long toying with them. It was a good test of her skill and she was watching their movements very carefully. It wasn’t a form of training she recognised. It felt like the kind of skills one might develop in the street, learned from experience.
The precious time she wasted came to a shocking end as one of them rushed at her with a mighty roar and she moved her blade to counter the attack. The attack never came.
The blade from the cultist fell to the ground, soon sprayed in the blood that ran down the length of his torso and dripped onto the ground.
The man had literally thrown himself into the path of the blade, impaling his body on the length of the rough steel. He made one last mockery of the action, a bloodied spit at Rebecca’s face before his eyes went dead and his body ceased to function.
It took a second to recover from the shock before she withdrew the blade quickly, the body tumbling to the floor as the sharp anchor was released. Something didn’t feel quite right, a chill traveled along her spine from the sudden action the cultist took. She hadn’t taken a life before, she had seen people die, she had witnessed a lot of violence in her life and she may have spilled blood.
Her voice was still rough but higher pitched than it typically was, surprised, shocked, unsure. The second man came at her before she could get her bearings, if he struck true it would have done some very horrible damage to her. She swung with the blade, throwing her weight behind the strike. It struck with deadly precision.
Two bodies now. She swallowed back the reflex that kept her from getting sick, moving past the two bodies now on the ground and towards the cultists with a quite focused look in her eyes. The hunt was on.
“Rebecca.” saying as he pulled her along a wall as they got closer. If she looked at him, he’d look back. Studying her eyes. “We’re close.” saying as he could see the glow of the pentagram. Jason could only hope that they weren’t too late. There was an idle wonder if he was going to run into any of his so called friends. Surely he wasn’t going to be the only one that felt what was going on here.
“The language is a type of Latin. More germanic in nature. The Vandili spoke it.” offering as he crept closer to where the other cultists were on the pentagram. “They were magically inclined, worshipped a select number of gods. Similar to whom the Vikings or Norse worshipped, though their rituals were based in blood and sacrificing the young. Believing their blood was the purist.” pressing his lips closer as he glanced around.
Jason was starting to sweat, feel uncomfortable.
“The magic is potent here, Step back, It’s forcing me to cha…change”
”Change! Change! O form of man!
Free the prince forever damned!
Free the might from fleshy mire!
Boil the blood in the heart for fire!
Gone! Gone! O form of man
And rise the demon Etrigan!!”
With an eruption of fire, Jason changed, horns pushing out of his skull, his skin turning. Soon, Etrigan was standing where Jason once stood. Skin hot from the fire that just consumed Jason. Bright red eyes looking around, taking in the scenery.
”What did Jason say before summoning me, little girl?”
As the battle had gotten underway a cloaked figure had come to settle atop a stone gargoyle on the corner of the adjacent buildings roof. The long cloak he wore moved with the wind flowing about him its erratic path the only discernible movement as the eyes behind his mask took in the unfolding chaos. As had been the case as long as he had dwelled upon the earth those who guided his hand had directed him where he needed be the most. A gauntleted moved from its place atop the gargoyles head and to the blade at his side he had seen more then enough.
Rising the figures muscles clenched as he prepared to leap the gap between buildings. Bringing his sword up and out before his face, where it nearly touched his nose both of his armored hands grasped the hilt as a short prayer was uttered a deep reverence to each of the words.
“Lord guide my hand, for I am your ser….”
As Etrigan appeared the figures final words would fade as this new development demanded his attention, he would beg his Lords forgiveness after the cleansing. Seeing the demon appear the knights eyes narrowed to slits and with an unseen flick his sword would ignite as he leaped through the air to land among the growing melee.
Aiming out the tip of his sword at Etrigan himself.
“Surely the Lord tests me with your presence beast. I shall not be found wanting!”
She was compelled to stop them, Jason pulling her only served to frustrate her from her desire to move closer to them. If they had wanted to stay stealthy, it certainly wasn’t going to happen now. They were noticed and the cultist in the center brought raised his arm, pointing it in the direction of Rebecca.
“The maiden has arrived. The blood will bring our master forth.”
Jason seemed to be getting onto the right track about blood being the key. Two had bled out now, two were dead at Rebecca’s blade. The other two were unconscious and insignificant at the moment.
The chanting stopped suddenly, the 9 others remaining halting what they were doing. Had they reached their stopping point? Had they finished their chant? Three split off after the two that were unconscious, withdrawing their sacred blades from their belts. The others seemed a bit stunned at the arrival of the demon. This was not what they had anticipated.
Rebecca seemed unphased by the transformation, only raising a brow at the demon calling her a ‘little girl’.
“Something something Vandili and blood cults. Then O’ be gone. We <b>need</b> to stop them….”
Her focus was drawn away again, the cultists now splitting and reaching for their blades upon the arrival of a third. In the chaos of the change and a newcomer the three cultists that split off had achieved their goal. Their two comrades that were knocked unconscious earlier by the knight very quickly has a smile painted across their necks. Blood once again spilling to the ground.
Rebecca stepped towards the pentacle upon the ground, her voice soft, cracked yet still melodic.
“One…two…devil’s coming for you…three…four…better lock your door…”
She spun the blade, smirking at the leader of the cultists, daring him to come at her if she is to be their sacrifice.
When dealing with the chaotic, chaotic things tend to occur, and when summoning demons it’s possible one might well get more than they bargained for. A glowing portal opens, and a woman steps out, clad in purple and wearing a matching nurse’s cap. The blonde sniffs at the scent of freshly-spilled blood in the air, smirking. “Well, this is no good. Almost seems like someone else’s problem, exceeept…” She looks to either side of her, as if expecting to see Johnny or his fetching sidekick.
“Looks like this is all me, then.” She laces her gloved fingers together and pushes her hands palms-out. “Time for surgery.” Some of the cultists look to still be alive; with a flick of her wrist to summon a golden rod topped with ancient iconography and a quick read of the situation, she aims to keep them that way, if only to deny the purpose of this entire event. Let the monsters battle amongst themselves; she’s here to prevent a plague.
Etrigan looked around, first at Rebecca, then to Azrael with a grin as the flaming sword is leveled at him. “Bah! If you like fire so much, Burn on this!” Taking in a deep breath, Etrigan would a large swathe of hellfire at the cross wearing man. “I have fought against your kind before, Templar. I thought I had killed you all!” wings would then sprout from his back as he started taking to the air.
“Girl. Kill them all, they will unable to finish the ritual if they are all..” trailing off as he noticed they were killing … well, each other. Etrigan was hardly an expert in such affairs, Jason tried to teach him. But it was often lost on him. The Demon not caring, only wishing to kill and slaughter beings. Though, Jason focused the demons attention at things that really needed to be killed. Etrigan upon seeing Nightmare Nurse grins.
“Where’s John? I figured this would be right up his alley.”
“Last I heard, He was doing with a outbreak of faeries in Mexico.” laughing raucously as he started to burn the area inside the pentagram.
Azrael leapt back and to the side as Etrigan took in a large breath, his next move could not be clearer had the angels themselves shouted it from the heavens amidst a chorus of trumpets. Bringing round his cloak as he evaded the attack his hope being its fireproof properties would save him should his speed not.
“I am no Templar! The Order of St. Dumas shed those fools centuries ago Etrigan!”
He of course knew the demons name and had often been made to read of it’s exploits should he ever encounter him. Coming out of his roll the knight shook lingering hellfire from his cloak and moved his sword toward the now flying Etrigan.
“Wait…you seek to stop their efforts?”
Had he the time Azrael would surely seek the lords direct guidance but clearly now was not the time. Turning his attention to the scene as it grew ever more chaotic and confusing around him. He had his orders and so he would let them be his guiding hand.
“Very well demon, Fly if you must my sword was not meant for you!”
Taking a moment to find the closest cultist Azrael spins about the bring his flaming sword across their back, and so he would begin doing to any would dared come to close.
In an interesting turn of events, the cultists were shocked when they attempted to make their next action. In an attempt to hasten the ritual, they were rendered completely ineffective even as knives plunged into their own flesh. Perplexed, some had even attempted to run their fellow cultists through with no effect. They roared in pain but their wounds healed almost instantly.
<i> “Attack the others!” </i>
The group split, four coming after Etrigan, the other four following the trail of hellfire after the holy knight. Blades drawn, they attacked with everything they had. A very small, mighty, and very invulnerable army.
Azrael would soon realize how invulnerable when the grievous wound across the cultist’s back healed right before his eyes.
Rebecca was left to the leader, a strike at him with her blade and it did nothing. She didn’t need the yellow demon to bark orders to do exactly what she already had in mind. The frustration began to build and the scene around her had become quite distracting. Two others had arrived on their ambush, the miraculous healing from every swipe of her blade became increasingly frustrating. She could only guess that someone was helping them, protecting them for some reason. Between strikes she attempted to search out who but the rise of the fire blocked her from getting a decent view of the blonde that had come to their aid.
The moment she spent searching distracted her enough to be hit, the blade cutting into her shoulder and nearly rendering her dominant arm useless. She screeched in pain, quickly grabbing her sword with her left hand and raising it to defend herself just as another rapid strike began to come at her.
“Your sword will never be meant for me, Crusader. I will flay your flesh before you can attempt to use that pig sticker you call a sword on me.” calling out to Azrael. The four cultists that were on him seemed to be unharmed. Even the one the Crusader was on seemed to be unharmed. This was troubling. Swooping down, he lands easily enough to side step their sword strikes. “They cannot be killed, perhaps they can be maimed into unconsciousness… “ Order of St Dumas, who were they? Pft, Who cares. The Crusader was nothing more than a human behind armor.
“Whatever Order you belong to, Crusader. Know that you have sinned just by being in battle with me!” laughing as he swiped away at the sword strikes, eventually bringing his own sword out. A long curved blade riddled with pot marks from centuries of battle. “You fools do not frighten me.” parrying strike after strike, he moves within the reach of one of the cultists, Etrigan makes a fist and delivers a solid right hook to the invincible, at the moment, cultist.
“Ah, yes. The Order of St. Dumas. Now I remember, I once slaughtered your leader! That was a great day! I flayed his flesh while he lived, then slowly baked his entrails and ate his heart. It was quite delicious!” laughing, Etrigan didn’t really, but he knew enough that he wanted to tease the holy man. “Did you know, he too, cried for his Lord. But he never came!” Etrigan shouted as he started making his way towards Rebecca. After she defends against another blow, the man’s sword would stop short of its target. A large, yellow clawed hand grabbed the wrist and simply pulled him back to throw at the other three cultists who chasing after him.
“Hahaha! This is like throwing pigs at the Arab’s during the Crusades!” it was obvious Etrigan was having a blast.
Stop them? Stop whom? It was difficult to pick out what the real problem was. Was it the demon? Was it the holy man? The sweet nurse had effectively not made herself a target, yet. All Becky knew at the moment was the searing pain of the wound she just received and the chaos that surrounded this moment. Men thrown, men sliced and yet they bounced back up without a single mark upon them only to have them attack again.
Etrigan made a mistake in coming after Rebecca’s target. Even the sweet dulcet tones of Asa’s voice couldn’t keep her calm.
“That was <font color=red><b>MINE</b></font>…”
The demon had made a mistake in taking her target, a growl emanated from her throat as she turned, chin defiantly held up as she glared at him. Perhaps she had enough of his mockery, of making light of the situation. He wanted a battle, he got one and he seemed to be enjoying it. He crossed a boundary that he was all too familiar with though. The ‘little girl’ was just as territorial as any other demon and perhaps it was a matter of honor for her to deal with the problem she had locked in on herself. Now…it was thrown aside, just as he had thrown aside the true potential of the young woman.
Shadows stretched beneath the moonlight, quivering for a moment before the sickening sounds of flesh rending and twisting could be heard. A fearsome and angry scream coming from the twisting form.
Perhaps if Etrigan was focused, if he wasn’t wasting his breath making foul jokes about wars long gone and ancient battles of good versus evil, he would have been better prepared for the attack.
Aided by wings, she leapt into the air, claws and the full force of the attack coming down onto the yellow demon. An angry maw of teeth aiming to chomp upon his skull. No words, no jokes, just pure rage attacking him.
Azrael slashed and then intended to immediately move to the next cultist only to find his efforts insufficient. He could see this day had been crafted to test him to his limits considering demon had become ally and his enemies would not die. Perhaps then he was meant to find another path toward salvation. If they would not die then perhaps they would accept being rendered harmless in another fashion.
“You lie as expected Etrigan, your foul presence has never encountered my order…not directly.”
As the cultist closed in Azrael taps a hidden mechanism on his sword causing its flames to erupt and burn hotter still. Spinning about his sword comes down intent on removing arm, leg and hopefully cauterizing the wound to greatly slow the lost limbs return.
In the midst of his spinning tornado of blood and fire Azrael catches sight of the girl he had thought to be his only other human and perhaps uncorrupted ally. Gone is the warrior of before her form replaced by what he could only assume to be another demon. He had faced many in the span of his time as the champion of St. Dumas, as had all the others before him and surely would those who came after. He would not give into fear despite the turning of the tide toward darkness.
He would end these cultist and then these demons, and if not he would give his life doing his duty.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. Etrigan thought for sure he was helping her not … you know, die. Then she transformed into… whatever this was and he was completely unprepared for this. Her strikes land,her teeth landing on his flesh. Though, not slicing through the hardened scaly skin as she may have thought. But, he was getting the feeling she was acting on instinct instead of a thought process. Reaching up, he grabs her maw and using his incredible strength, he pushes it open and off his skull.
“Perhaps you are in need of a punishment, girl.” growling as leaned back slightly to kick her away from him. “What do you suggest, Nightmare Nurse?” asking as he rubbed his head where she bit him, he could feel the wounds closing, though, slower than usual. “Shall I roast them? Make sure they cannot recover from such a wound? Maybe include this Holy Crusader? I wish to personally bake him in this armor of his. Feast on his entrails…” watching Rebecca though, he readies himself for another attack.
“Look to the holy man and focus your fury on him, He could use a challenge!” yelling at Rebecca, a grin on flimsy lips as he awaits for her next attack. Figuring she wasn’t going to attack Azrael, though, that’d delight him to no end.
“Well… that’s one way to go about it,” the healer from Hell mutters to herself. Azrael switches to nonlethal means at a very fortunate time, and she doesn’t bother repairing the cultists’ limbs because a simple bit of triage renders them a bit lower on the priority scale than her new ally. Able to switch focus, she instead keeps as close to the unleashed Vesper as she dares, weaving together spell after spell to keep her upright as she does battle with the more experienced Etrigan.
She laughs a bit maniacally at the demon as he calls her out. “What makes you think I’m on your side of this, Etrigan?!” Time to drop her colors and hope the right folk notice. She’s expecting him to come after her next, which is all the more reason to keep the halfbreed girl on her clawed feet. “The cultists want to die, it’s their life-force that’s powering the ritual you fucking yurodivy!” With her keen mystical senses, she’d picked it up pretty easily; in certain ways she’s a competent substitute for ol’ Johnny Brit, but as far as attitude, well…
Yeah, maybe, still.
Azrael’s strike lands true. There was no magical recovery from the damage he caused and he successful disarmed, maimed and rendered the cultist absolutely unable to cause harm to himself or anyone else, even if he was howling in pain from both the fire burning at his flesh and the fire of the hell blade licking at his soul.
Vesper found a mild bit of satisfaction as her teeth took hold, the demon’s blood coating her teeth. Even as he pried her maw from around his head that long tongue ran across his cheek. The force at which he pulled her off flipped her over in front of him but she was able to twist before she landed, avoiding the kicking blow and instead striking with her own with her claws. It was easy to tell she was still spitting angry with rage, she was lashing out, if a bit carelessly with the intent of doing harm to the larger demon. It was certainly keeping him busy and distracted and unable to move away from the young demon attacking him.
The cultists were getting their bearings again but they weren’t as quick to action as before. They were absolutely <b>stunned</b> by many things. They had gotten the demons they wanted, perhaps more than they had desired but they had just witnessed the other cultist get completely disabled by the Holy Knight Azrael.
There were no intelligible words coming from Vesper, only an angry hiss as she struck at the demon but there was one action she did take that the demon was familiar with, she was taking a deep breath…
“Bah! Crusader, cease your actions against the cultists, and strike your sword at the woman attempting to heal these men!” shouting at Azrael “If you do this, I promise not to feast upon your bones this night!” Etrigan was currently busy with Rebecca. “It seems I was incorrect and the Nightmare Nurse is *not* on our side” grappling with the angry demon that was formally Rebecca.
“Enough of this, girl. You are clearly not in control!” maybe a little hellfire would do her good. As she swipes at him, he’ll try and grab onto her. If this works, he’ll take a deep breath and then breathe hellfire out at her. Hoping to burn enough of the demon to render it, or her, or both, unconscious. Etrigan was doing what he could, now hopefully Azrael would listen to him. Though, honestly he couldn’t wait until later when he can tell the Order of St Dumas that Azrael took orders from a demon.
Granted, it was for the greater good.
But, it still would tickle him pink.
“I do not take orders from demons! Least of all you.”
Anyone else would see the humor in such a statement given Azrael had indeed been listening to a demon. So far he had appeared to ignore the Nightmare Nurse but he had heard her as she chastised Etrigan and took note of her methods perhaps because they annoyed the yellow skinned loudmouth so.
“Should I heed Etrigan though I would loathe to do so? Tell me what manner of demon plays nursemaid?”
Azrael asks as he steps and closer to Nightmare Nurse his flaming sword aimed at her as he circles careful of any remaining cultist and of course the raging demon girl behind the nurse.
“My Lord commands that I deal with this situation first and foremost. Guide my hand elsewhere and we have no quarrel”
Her blue eyes go wide open as demon pits paladin against her. An unexpected move, but a clever one. She can feel the heat from the Swords of Sin and Salvation at her back, though she doesn’t turn away from her task, keeping up the healing upon Rebecca through the worst that Etrigan is capable of. Unfortunately, the concentration from the effort renders her somewhat defenseless, but an oath’s an oath regardless of whether she’d taken it voluntarily.
At the very least, Azrael, ever the gentleman, offers her a way out. “Keep disabling the cultists, stop them from killing themselves; I can’t heal them and the girl!” she shouts desperately. “I’m not your enemy here, holy-man!” For what it’s worth, she’s very convincing, even when she lies, but in this rare instance she’s completely sincere. Her aura is one of hot black evil, however, something fundamentally tainted and wrong, though intrinsically that’s not so different from Etrigan’s.
She’s at his mercy, whatever his choice. Drawing in a breath through her nose and planting her thigh-high boots, she focuses her magic through the scepter that she’d conjured from nothing and continues her holy task.
That deep breath meant a scream, and her scream was quite unpleasant at full force. It was that unholy screech, fueled by the imprints of the bat that she had inherited and this time it was much stronger.
It was a grand exchange of the screech and the fires of hell that burst from Etrigan’s belly. While it seared and pained her it, it appeared she had a resistance to its more potent effects. Her long tongue ran over those sharp teeth as she backed away, planting herself between the demon and the holy man and the mystical nurse woman. She swayed slowly from one foot to another, her head tilting as she waited for one of them to make a move either against her or the Nurse.
Maybe the pain of hellfire brought her to her senses, if only enough for her to understand and comprehend the plot that the yellow demon was now trying to hatch. That was not why they were there. The threat was still there as long as the cultists stood and they were completely unprotected and they were coming to their senses.
One of them got caught in the crossfire of the screech. Immediately the panic took hold, a great fear of bees sending him running and screaming until he unknowingly leapt from the edge of the building. At least his death is far away enough from the Sigil that it didn’t fuel the ritual.
<font color=red>”Kill them and fuel my anger. Kill them and make me stronger. Kill them so I can eat your unworthy <b>heart</b>.</font>” The words were hissed between sharp teeth. Rebecca had figured out what was happening, she felt it the moment the first had leapt onto her sword. It only made her want to cut them down all the more.
“Girl. You are being most unpleasant! Cease these actions! This is not a heart you are eating today!” telling her as she hissed at him. The scream had been unpleasant, but thankfully due to him using his hellfire breath, he was able to counter most of its effects on him. Leaving him with a ringing ear. They were hear to stop the cultists, to stop the ritual. But Nightmare Nurse and Azrael were fouling things up.
“Bah. Strike at her already, Crusader! Your dallyance is becoming quite the chore!” shouting at him. “If we are to live, you must take orders from this demon! I have no reason to lie.” Her trinket may be something to destroy. “If not her, then strike her trinket! Do -something- instead of prance around like some silly court jester!” Holy Men. What a pain in the ass they are to deal with! Jason certainly didn’t have a problem dealing with them. But he’s also not a demon…
“What would your God say if you died here on this spot due to your inaction? The very city is at stake, Knight. If not the world. Heed my word and strike at the Nurse or her trinket!” This. This is why he doesn’t deal with holy men. “If you do not, Holy Man. I shall make sure your Order is nothing but bones and ash when we are done with this.
But first, I must deal with this most dire of situations!” looking to Rebecca, as he works out a plan in his brain.
“Come, Girl. Attack me, and find out what it feels like fight a true demon.” he growls at Rebecca. Hopefully Azrael listens to him, because… damnit. If he doesn’t, Etrigan isn’t going to be too happy!
A knight of the Order did not hesitate to obey his god, and he did not stay his hand when dealing with demons. It was a simple incontrovertible fact of the life he had been called to, had been born to serve. It would bring the eyes of his most immediate higher power when his actions this night became known to his masters. Perhaps the rumblings that claimed he had grown to old to serve as champion were not without merit, not long ago he would have been appalled to even consider his inaction.
“I have been tested, and I have failed.”
At this his sword would be raised and swung for the neck of the Nightmare Nurse. His mind clouded as it might be knew he would not be faulted for removing a demon from the earthly plane, even one that healed.
The Rod of Asclepius is a manisfestation of her healing magic, not a physical token that can be destroyed or taken away from her; she would’ve loved to have seen Azrael waste his attention upon attacking it. However, unfortunately for her, he doesn’t, instead going for the metaphorical throat of the situation. She really can’t afford to let herself die either, and as Etrigan had let up for a moment she’s no longer distracted from healing the halfbreed and fully able to sense and duck beneath the magical blades, which slice the top of her little nurse-hat off and cause the whole thing to flutter to the ground.
“Welp, it was a nice party, but I’d better be going!” she yells to Etrigan, stepping forward until she’s directly behind Vesper, the real cause of all this carnage and the very linchpin of the ritual itself. Dropping into a curtsey toward the folk trying to kill her, an orange portal opens beneath her, gravity carrying the two anti-heroines downward. The instant they’re through, it disappears into ether.
Meanwhile, at the House of Mystery…
SPLASH! Asa kicks her feet, rising to the surface of the olympic-sized swimming pool. Roman-style columns line the chamber, between them statues carved in the likenesses of the old gods. She swipes her wet blonde locks back from her face, calling out, “Oh Zataaaaannaaaaa,” she calls out. “Brought you a real live one!”
One moment she is being told to stop, the next she is told to bring her claws back to battle against the demon. It didn’t make sense and the confusion revealed itself as she tilted her head and looked him over. She wasn’t quite considering it. Every moment away from the deadly violence was a moment she could get her bearings again. There was a threat that still loomed but there wasn’t an immediate one that she needed to jump after. This wasn’t the time to test herself against him, and such tests could end in a deadly manner. Was she eager for death? Was she willing to risk it and maybe end whatever it was that was happening to her? Things she did not understand, desires and hungers that went against her very human nature.
She snapped her jaws at Etrigan, perhaps in mockery, perhaps to only tease him. However action and movement to the side caught her attention immediately, she sprung to action, one arm raising across to block the blade, another clawed hand in a fist rising up to strike true to the Knight’s chest.
There was no contact, no collision, no satisfying feeling of her claws tearing through armor and into the soft flesh of the human. Instead she fell into water, the force making her screech but it was soundless beneath the surface as she clawed through the liquid to bring herself to the surface.
Pulling her away from the site, away from the scent of blood and the mockery of the demon caused her to change. Or perhaps she just needed a chilly dip to cool off.
All the same, she sputtered as she frantically reached for the side of the pool, pulling herself to the edge and out onto the concrete surface. She didn’t know what happened but she was relieved to be away, to hear only the quiet of the water lapping at the sides of the pool.
“…thank you,” her voice was hoarse from the screaming, or she was just physically exhausted from the shift back to something more human. Either way, she was thankful to be away from that mess. Was she just thrust into another?
“Hmph.” Etrigan nearly snorted when the two were pulled into the orange energy portal. Looking from where they were, he levels his gaze at Azrael, then he grins. “Failed, huh? Sounds like you’ve got something coming to you when you get home.” slowly starting towards the crusader, his grin widening. “You know, if you come worship me…I can give you power that you’ve never imagined, Knight. You can do real good. Better than you can with this .. Order.”
The cultists are running away, and he doesn’t bother to stop them. Knowing that they’re not going to be anymore harmful than they were. They’re souls have already been damned to Hell.
“What do you say, Crusader? You want to bat for the other team?” grinning more. Etrigan is staring the knight down. The Demon doesn’t really want to tangle with the Knight, he’s hoping, if anything to drive the knight away. “We have the best kind of candy…” saying now with a bit of a sing song voice…
Well, as best of a sing song voice he could muster.
The avatar of annihilation slips from the water nimbly, dressed in a one-piece bathing suit instead of her earlier garb. She turns to sit on the edge, letting her feet dangle in the water a moment. “Just part of the job, sweetie,” she calls over toward the shifted Rebecca, presumably in her original form. Every hybrid tends to be unique, and Asa knows she can’t make any assumptions around her, though from all appearances she seems to have let her guard down. Worse, beneath her bouncy and pleasant demeanor, she’s actually a bit tired.
Being a hero is just exhausting.
“They call me Nightmare Nurse,” she offers, wondering what’s taking Zee so long. Unawares of the current owner of the House she now occupies, and probably for the better, else they might’ve wound up in a Chinese opium den or something instead. “Who’re you?” When she reaches back for a towel, she already knows it’ll be there because she wants it to be; she’s been here before. Hell, she used to own it herself. The House of Mystery has always needed a caretaker, and it hasn’t generally been choosy about it.
She lifted her head for a moment to get a good look at the woman. It was different from her normal set of eyes, the other form heavily relied on other senses it seemed. Pieces of the bat clinging on, even in a form that was demonic in nature. Jason Blood had warned of that, rather asked about it but she didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. Something about it didn’t surprise her or shock her. Her own father’s abilities were transformative, it depended on the situation. Another fearsome fact that just settled in as Rebecca took a deep breath and pushed herself up. Her armor was just ruined, shredded and burned and now sopping wet from the pool.
The name was a bit of a joke, a nickname she had gotten from her father when she was going through a very hard goth phase in her teens. It seemed to fit in this situation. She worried her real name may bring problems down on her family and she wanted to protect them, they didn’t need her issues added onto the pile of all of the other problems they faced.
“You really are a nurse? You stopped that fire from eating me up.”
Azrael turns gripping his blade tightly his eyes burning nearly literally as he looks up into the eyes of Etrigan. On any other day this would be the part where Azrael faced down the demon Etrigan and either added a chapter to his tale or saw it ended. But this would not be that day as fate had already made its choice and a different demon had landed a fata blow to the knight.
Azrael sways as his footing begins to fail him and his sword drops from his hand with a resounding clang, its flame sputtering out a moment later. Touching his now empty hand to his chest he slowly pulls it away to find blood dripping from between his fingers. Glancing down he now sees clearly the wound Rebecca had left in his chest. He could have sworn she had missed…
Asa sees the lie for what it is, but doesn’t press on it. There’s little to be gained from it, aside from a pretty choice opportunity to set the girl off again and face the demoness one-on-one while she’s weakened from the jump here. And as far as great ideas go, that’s pretty far removed. “Well, don’t ask to see my license,” she laughs, toweling off her hair and then standing up. She hangs up the towel, pretty needlessly, and retrieves a terrycotton robe from the rack, slipping it on over her shoulders.
“I did do that, didn’t I? Come on, let’s go get something to eat.” She wanders from the pool area, and the door for whatever reason leads directly into a middle class-style kitchen/dining room combo. She pulls open the door for the refrigerator and extracts a jug of milk, then slams a few cupboards open and shut as she hunts down some bowls and a box of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Cereal. After pouring some cinnamony bits into both bowls then drowning them in milk, she grabs a spoon and slips onto a cheap-looking wooden chair next to a cheaper-looking fold-out card table.
Rebecca still seemed bewildered. She was in auto-pilot while following the nurse. The very elaborate pool room led to a very modest kitchen. It didn’t make much sense but she was still reeling from the events. At the mention of food she ran her tongue over her teeth and made a grimace. That taste was still in her mouth. She wondered idly if there was a gallon of vodka hidden in a cabinet somewhere in there.
She almost protested, opening her mouth to say ‘no, thanks,’ but the cereal was already poured and drowned in milk. Two bowls, two spoons and she still didn’t even know where she was. Was this supposed to be normal? Just sit down, eat some cereal, talk about shopping and boys or something?
She carefully took a bowl in a shaky hand and plopped into an empty chair. For a long moment she was silent, poking at the cereal as it floated about in the liquid.
“I was trying to save you too. I can’t believe he listened to that tool.”
Waving a hand.
“You’re no fun…”
”Gone now, O Etrigan
And rise again (or rise once more) the form of man!”
A column of flame would wrap around the Demon as he stared Azrael down, when the flames dissipated, Jason Blood would be standing where Etrigan once stood.
“I’m afraid tonight isn’t the day you die, Knight.” offering as he kneeled down and looked the wounds over.
“I have a friend who can fix you up.” explaining as he pulled the knight back up to his feet, letting him lean against Jason. Casting an incantation, the two of them would vanish. Jason knew plenty of healers. This was not going to be the day that Azrael died.
The monster in human guise calmly eats cereal, stainless steel clinking softly against porcelain on occasion. If Rebecca cared to look, she would almost certainly find whatever she truly wanted here, though of course she does not, nor does she understand the nature of the strange domecile they are currently located in. Outside the window above the sink, it’s a beautiful sunny day out, a white picket fence bordering a mowed lawn and beyond that a working-class neighborhood where people almost certainly do not own Roman swimming pools. It’s a panorama, another thing concocted for their benefit, though if one were to crawl out that window to explore…
Well, the pleasant lie is Massive, and one could easily become lost in it.
She points with her spoon at ‘Vesper’. “Don’t think I didn’t notice that! I really appreciate the gesture,” she says, after swallowing a mouthful of Excellence. “Etrigan’s a tricky bastard, though. I mean, I’m not too shabby myself but I was kind of at a disadvantage, being late to the party and all.” She blinks, her eyes blue rather than the honey-color they were when she channeled the Rod. “So was that your first time?”
“He is what he is,” that was the long and short of it.
He was going to say and do whatever twisted a situation into his favor. Rebecca didn’t know much about demons but she did have a very good idea they were the tricky sort. If she had been on her toes, she might have suggested a similar ploy. It felt within her nature to do so.
“Yeah. I’ve been hunting them down a while. I hear….things. It was driving me nuts and I wanted to stop it before something horrible happened.”
She decided to try and take a bite of that irony with some cereal before she said much more. It became horrible, it was a blood bath. Two, maybe three fell by her own hand.
“It was something done to me when I was a newborn, I guess. Morgaine turned a bunch of babies into demons. I didn’t exactly get the cure because I didn’t show any signs, like something in my blood hid the signs of it. I don’t know. Jason Blood would but I don’t want to talk to him right now.”
Asa’s a liar herself, and a conniver; she understands the game and doesn’t hold it against the demon. Among the ancient and the immortal, the truly timeless, the truth is a bendy and inconvenient thing. Doesn’t mean she holds Azrael in any great esteem, but the religious tend to be pretty gullible, else there wouldn’t be any demons left, let alone useful idiots to summon them.
Crunching up some more cereal between her borrowed molars, she listens to the story. Not entirely unfamiliar, but it’s got its own twist. “Not to be a Debbie Downer but in trying to stop it, you almost made it happen,” she points out, no hint of judgement in her voice. It’s not really her place, and the loss of life doesn’t bother her much given that she’d still discharged her own duties to the best of her ability.
And there’s something unironically nice to be said for good intentions.
Smiling coyly, she says, “I could tell you, too; I’m the greatest mystic physician walking the earth today. But it won’t matter; you need to know what’s going on with you now, and how to control it. That’s why I’ve brought you here.”
There was so much sugar in the cereal it nearly made her teeth ache, but it did mask the other flavor that had been lingering.
Her eyes rose up when the Nurse mentioned that she nearly made it happen. She wasn’t wrong and the look she gave said that before she looked back at the less interesting cereal bowl.
“I think it was a trap. Every death just made me feel more…bitchy? I don’t know how to explain it. I just wanted to devour everything.”
A brow quirked at the mention of being the best physician. Wherever ‘here’ was, it was odd and she couldn’t quite place what it was or where it was. It didn’t feel normal.
“That would help. What’s the catch?”
She felt like there was something to it, there was always something to it. She was just naturally very cautious about these things.
Asa nods vehemently, clutching her bowl in both hands. “It was a trap, and it almost worked too, but fortunately for you I was the guest of honor at a bachelor party in Jersey Shore and… well, let’s just say it got my attention.” It was the reason she’d shown up and immediately began healing the cultists, something that had occupied her and prevented her from fully dishing about it until now.
When asked about the ‘catch’, the monster grins broadly. “Clever girl. With magic there’s always a price to be paid, but in this instance that price isn’t mine to give. My… associate will, I’m sure, make her own demands but she’s easy enough to get along with – and easy on the eyes, too.” The Nightmare Nurse winks for emphasis, trying to add a little levity into the rather unpleasant topic.
“Mostly, you seem like a good kid and I do hate to see that corrupted. And it was nice to play the hero, even if I’m only moonlighting.” She squints a bit, then sets aside her half-eaten cereal. “While we wait, we should probably find you something a little more comfortable to wear.”
“Probably got a lot of attention…” she trailed off into a mumble.
It wasn’t her intention, she was hoping to get in, mess things up and get out. There were entities in that city she did not want to get the attention of and some had a very close eye on her.
The news didn’t stir any hope for a fantastic resolution to this. She was trying to look at it in a good light. So she’d meet some more people in the community. She’d be able to control herself and maybe learn to control her temper.
“I’m trying to do the right thing. Even if that’s going to be a losing fight against what I am. There are worse things in that city than me though so, it’s whatever.”
She glanced down at her clothing again and sighed. A robe would have been nice, just something fluffy and soft and warm to curl up into. The fight had very much been taken out of her and she felt like she was waiting for some impending doom to come down and strike her. She was pretty sure she felt her claw stick in, she felt the throb of a heart wrenching in damage for only half a second. Even thinking about it had her push the bowl forward.
“Alright, let’s raid the closet.”
“Oh, all the right kinds,” Asa agrees dreamily.
She sighs wistfully at the girl’s admission, seeing the familiarity there. The thing that had really made her invested in the situation in the first place, and confirms her continuing interest. “You’re not the first person to be screwed from birth, Vesper. But anyone can change, anyone, and if you really want it then don’t let anyone tell you you’re too tainted, too broken to be fixed.” Smiling sympathetically, she’s more than willing to leave it at that, to not mention how much of herself she sees in that story.
The two of them stand and leave the room through a second door, stepping into a lavish bedroom with a heart-shaped bed and so many mirrors, some fogged and hard to distinguish shapes in, some convex or concave or tinted. An open accordian-style closet door reveals a rack of clothes and many shoes of grungy, functional style, all of which should be about Rebecca’s size. At the end of the rack, a luxurious-looking mink fur robe hangs invitingly.
Nightmare Nurse, meanwhile, flops back on the bed, pale legs hanging over the edge as she watches her own reflection with a smile. “Get changed, I won’t look,” she promises.
“I don’t and won’t,” that very subject hit very close to home.
She never believed her parents were beyond redemption. She was told they did such horrible things and caused so many problems and even at times were mentally unwell. It didn’t matter though, she believed in the good in them. All in all, they were great parents. They cared for her and her brother fiercely even if a bedtime hug was sometimes in the comfort of being enveloped in a huge leathery bat wing.
With a sigh she finally was willing to open up, she tried to distract herself by rifling through the clothes. Old shirts she thought were long gone, that her mother might have thrown out. She plucked up one that had been her favorite, it even still felt like her favorite.
“You can call me Becky. Rebecca Langstrom. If that puts anything into perspective. My father is a pretty well known ‘monster’ in his own right. Haven’t seen him in a long time though. He sends me stuff at school sometimes, says he’s really proud of me. My brother is so genetically messed up it’s not funny. So…I guess they thought I’d be the normal one to break the cycle.”
She snorted as she got undressed. She didn’t care if the woman looked or not. She was no curvy Zatanna, more lanky and slender with more of a dancer’s build than anything.
“I sure broke it. This look okay?”
She spread her arms out, the shirt was oversized and went down about mid-thigh but it seemed to work. She only bounced around awkwardly as she tried to pull on some shorts.
“Sorry, thought you’d get some confessions of secret boy crushes or something and you got my life’s story instead. I’ve been mucking around the occult since I was twelve, I guess I should have seen it coming.”
Asa had known many things about Vesper at a glance, maybe even things the girl herself didn’t know, though she hadn’t known her name. It does bring it a bit in perspective, but even the Langstrom family are newcomers. She might glance at a picture-box now and again as she steps past but she doesn’t know a whole lot about their problems. From what little she did know, well, it hadn’t seemed infernal.
True to her word, she doesn’t look, but more out of respect than anything else. The thing might be the master of the inappropriate but even she has a sense of decency at odd times like this, particularly when she’s uncomfortable enough. She’s a nurse, damnit, not a babysitter and where the hells is Zatanna?
She rises to a sitting position, nodding approvingly. “Very retro. Is that Marilyn Manson?” She squints at the graphic on the front before rising to her feet, waving a hand over herself to change her outfit back to thigh-high boots and long, long gloves covered in gauzy bandages. The robe remains, lending a somewhat comical air. “Oh, come on, I didn’t expect gossip – give me some credit! I’ve been mucking around the occult since time was popularly considered a passing fad.”
Something that Becky had not yet questioned was the nature of her ‘rescuer’, she who could weave magic fairly effortlessly and seemed unaffected by the most horrible of demonic entities. Naturally, Asa does very little to dispel her aura of mystery and intrigue.