"Think you’re probably the first he wants to see," Roy said, still laying on the bed. He had his arms behind his head, the picture of comfort and relaxation. He wasn’t really paying attention to her as she applied the remedy he’d made. Though the knowledge that there was an attractive woman in his room rubbing stuff on her skin didn’t slip pass him, it was nothing he could allow himself to do anything more than just acknowledge. He could flirt and he could talk dirty, but anything beyond that he just couldn’t do. Intimacy was nothing he could have anymore unless it was between strangers. And if she was going to be living in the manor with them, she wasn’t a stranger. Still, it didn’t stop him from peaking a glance every now and again. She was attractive. He’d give her that.
"He has this whole thing about people reporting their findings to him," he waved his hand in front of his face like it was something ridiculous. But even Roy went to Mitchell when he found something that was important. Maybe Boo Radley who’d been with Melissa could tell him all about it, but he’d warn Melissa now that Mitchell was the type of guy who liked it when people came to him themselves. Not that he didn’t have other ways of finding things out when people didn’t, it just probably made it easier for the man. Roy would be the same way if he was in his position. But thank God or Buddha or Tom Cruise’s alien god that he wasn’t.
When she talks about her thoughts that this would go differently, he rolls his head to the side to look at her. If he were a nice man, he’d tell her the hunt hadn’t even really started. He’d tell her that interviews were important, yeah, but it didn’t really matter what you did during them. It mattered what you did when lives were at stake. When you were out there facing the monsters. That’s when a person really proved themselves to anyone who was watching. Or to themselves. But Roy wasn’t a nice guy and he didn’t say any of that. He just gave her a sincere look. “Then do better. We’re not done here yet.”
Sitting up, he swung his legs off the side of the bed and stood, heading to the dresser where he still had a bag of things. He pulled out a 40 that he’d bought for himself and then grabbed a box of noodles that had been getting slightly cold sitting there while it waited. He walked back over to the table and set it down in front of her. “Don’t say I never gave you anything,” he said and paused at her question and the motion she made in front of her chest. “Yep. All over, princess.”
"I know." It was an overall reply to everything Roy had just said, as she shook her head, casting her gaze back down to the floor. She knew she should talk to Mitchell, but there was this mind numbing fear that she would be deemed inept and end up becoming locked up in an actual cage. The Tenebrae were anything but dumb, and if they said that she had power, then there was no way she would ever walk out on them alive. Not that she really even wanted too. Not because she was powerful, or she believed herself to be powerful, simply because people had died because of her. Because of her naivety. And even if she could feel the darkness coursing through her veins there was also this hope that one days she would be able to change the fate that she had been dealt.
The witch also knew that this was far from over, and at his words along with the sincerity that was written upon his face, Melissa simply wanted to do better. To try and do better. After all, compared to everyone else on the team, there was no doubt that Melissa certainly seemed less than qualified. Sometimes she wondered if she was really as dangerous as everyone thought her to be, while other times there was no doubt about it. Melissa had never been like the other witches, even as a child her mother had noticed and there were some nights, when the shadows crept and dug into her brain, that she felt that her mother’s death had something to do with her. But didn’t all children feel that way after the loss of a parent?
Looking back down too the mixture of herbs in her hand, Melissa’s nose scrunched up once again as she took a small sniff before slamming her eyelids closed. Maybe if she breathed through her mouth it wouldn’t be so bad? It was wishful thinking, she knew, as she opened her eyes back up and watched as Roy stalked across the room, setting down the box of noodles on the table. She smiled at him then. At first the corner’s of her mouth simply twitched but the more she stared at him the wider the gesture grew.
"Thank you." She finally managed to get out, trying to hide the smile as she adverted her gaze back to the remedy in her hands. This was going to be horrible, she thought offhandedly, before looking around the room and nodding her head towards the bathroom. "If you insist, is it okay if I use your restroom for a moment?"
Do you think you did a good job on the mission?
It was my first mission. I didn’t exactly expect things to go as they did, obviously, but a lot of it was simply out of my hands. I made mistakes, yes, but aren’t mistakes simply lessons learned?
Do you consider Black Magic to be an addiction?
In a way, I suppose it is. I, personally, believe it to be more like a disease though. After all, with enough support and with a strong enough will, you can easily overcome an addiction, given time. With Black Magic, however, once you start…it becomes a part of who you are. It becomes who you are.
The collapse of the floor almost took Sebastian with it, a single step back the only saving grace between him and a fall. The boards cracked beneath him and the walls shuddered, dust billowing up in a thick cloud. There was only the vaguest impression of shadows skirting along the walls, most of the room cast into darkness. He coughed to try and clear his lungs, blinking away the dirt as his gaze sought the other two. Melissa he spotted instantly, but there was only the hole in the ground where Bille had been a moment ago. He couldn’t make her out, only a small pool of light from her flashlight, and it didn’t illuminate either her or whatever else might be down there.
There was a flicker of something almost like guilt, the thought darting through his mind that he’d told her to take point, he’d put her in this position, but it wasn’t a thing that lasted long. She was a hunter, same as him. There were always risks, even if they weren’t always supernatural in nature. That it still had his teeth grinding together was nothing he chose to acknowledge, focusing on where they stood.
"Deacon!" At this point, he didn’t see a reason to try and stay quiet. Any possibility that they’d gone unnoticed up until that point was long gone by now. "You alive down there?"
Melissa’s words had his gaze flicking back up to her, eyes narrowing briefly at them. Summoning symbols took varying form. He should know. There was one still carved into his chest. The implication there was that whatever had been brought up from Hell here was similar to whatever Melissa had drawn upon in the past, and it wasn’t a thing that sat well with him. It had his attention shifting back to the pit below them before he raised the cross above his head.
"Everliving God, I call on you." As soon as the first words left his lips, he could feel the power building around him, crackling in the air in a way that was comforting in its familiarity. And just as quickly he could feel something malevolent pushing back against it. "Shine with the light of your radiance on a people who live in the shadow of death. Let the dawn from on high break upon us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen."
If the magic contained here was of the blackest kind, the kind he commanded was the antithesis of that. White magic of a sharper bent than anything used for healing or life. His was a blade, and with every word that left his lips, splinters of light lancing out from the cross that hung from his hand. It was his talisman, an object of no small amount of power because of that he gifted to it. But it wasn’t until the last word was spoken that the room erupted.
Light poured forth from the hanging cross, brighter and more intense than anything shone from a flashlight. The moment it hit the walls, the sigils erupted in thick black smoke, the room suddenly awash in a flurry of black wings, just beyond his circle of light. They circled them in a cloud, the windchimes jangling ominously with every pass. He found himself sneering at them, because there were demons here, but these were only small ones. Imps. Any evocationist could summon them, but they were nothing compared to the horrors he’d seen, even in the numbers they came in now.
It didn’t stop him from pulling the trigger of his gun when one got too close, blasting it from the air in a flash of gunpowder and smoke. But they were less important than the other presence here, and his gaze dropped briefly into the pit Billie had fallen in because he could only imagine that’s where it would be. “Stay here. I’m going down there.”
Billie landed on top of a few broken boards and some other hard, lumpy objects that she knew would leave a very interesting pattern of bruises and scratches all over her body. The hand that had been holding the flashlight opened, abandoning the light in the hopes that an open hand might held her break her fall, however she held tightly to her gun. She could survive without light, but not without something to defend herself.
Coughing, she struggled to suck air back into her lungs, though she thought she might vomit from the smell. Rancid meat and soured air filled her mouth and nose and made her gag. There was dirt on the side of her face a blood welling from a few scratches there. Looking around, the flashlight that had rolled to the other side of the room only helped her gauge how far down she was. It didn’t seem too bad as she looked up and heard Mitchell’s voice. Pushing herself to her feet, she called back easily. “Yeah. Fine. Just figured I’d take the fast way down.” she says, and normally she might even smile but there was a strong feeling that she wasn’t alone down here. The shadows felt like they were moving. Walking over she grabbed her flashlight and shone it around. It was worse than she had thought.
The rough lumps she had landed on, looked like bones and parts of bodies that were still decomposing. In the far end of the room was a roughly hewn stone altar, crude and stained with blood. When her light shone over the room it almost seemed that she shadows ran from it. From above her, she hear the soft timbre of Mitchell’s voice saying words she couldn’t quite make out, but they were met with a hissing sound down her in this room. Billie’s eyes widened because she recognized this and could only guess what Mitchell was doing. When she walked forward she began to hear what he was saying, and quietly joined in without much thought. “- your son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.” she whispers with the same soft reverence she had used when working with the priest.
From somewhere behind her there was a low, ominous sounding growl that only seemed to build strength and an unexplained breeze picked up, blowing the rancid air about the dark room. Reaching into her shirt, Billie pulled out her cross and let it rest now visibly. “I think ya’ pissed it off, big guy.” she called up to the pair still above her. She wasn’t afraid though. Fear belonged to people who didn’t want to die, and Billie was not one to care about her own mortality much. “This should be interesting.” she mumbled to herself.
Melissa hadn’t known what to expect as she watched in silence, as Sebastian drew upon his magic. She’d heard words similar enough during that time after Orias’s summoning as the priests had tortured her, but this, this was something different. It was white, pure, and it hurt. The brighter the light grew the more Melissa found herself turning away, adverting her gaze, squeezing her eyes shut as if that would help erase the memory of the light that had been seared into her brain. She could feel something moving around her, hear the frenzied flutter of wings, but even if she wanted to Melissa knew she would be unable to look at this point.
It almost felt like having sat in the sun to long, her skin already sensitive from her allergic reaction earlier, burned and as she finally forced herself to open her eyes at the sound of a gun going off, she could feel her contacts sticking painfully to her cornea, almost as if they were melting. It wasn’t that she had underestimated Sebastian, because she’d suspected from the moment that they’d met that he had to be powerful in his own way in order to be running Greystone, but she hadn’t really thought that his power would come to effect her so greatly. She wondered if this was normal, and the more she thought about it the less likely she was able to believe that anything about this was normal.
Melissa straightened up at the sound of Sebastian’s voice telling her to stay put, and while she wanted to argue all she could do was simply nod her head in response. At this point, after that display of his powers, she honestly wondered if it was the best idea for her to be around him at all in case something like that were to occur again. The thought made her stomach churn and her vision spin before her eyes, at just the idea of what the light felt like. There was no telling what would happen if she was around him if and when he tried something else.
Roy stands at the dresser, mixing his ingredients together. Asafoetida, castor oil, basil. The cure all remedy when it came to anything skin. Rashes, blisters, burns, hives, everything. He’d learned it from Linda and that thought alone made him pause as he was mixing it together. There were a few times when she’d been gentle. Mostly when he thought of her, he thought of pain. Of frightening images and violence because it’s what she’d always been best at. He thought few people had seen a sign of her that was still human when they were around her. He was one of those few people. And he was one of the few people who had memory with any sort of gentleness when it came to her. Some days he missed it. Some days, he missed her. And when he did, that’s usually when he started drinking.
"Don’t give a shit about the magical uses," he says, shaking up the bottle of the remedy he’d been working on putting together. He turned to eye her and she had her jacket off. He could see the red soreness around her arms and there was a lot more of it than he thought she’d have. Good thing he made enough. Walking over, he handed the bottle over to her before he took a few steps back and sat back down on the bed. He had an epi-pen and benedryl if it got too bad, but it would make her drowsy and he was fairly certain they were going to head out soon, depending on what she went and reported to Mitchell about the brother. "Rub that," he said, making a circle motion in front of his chest. "Everywhere."
Sitting back on the bed, he turned his attention back to the tv and by now he was already bored with the movie playing on it. It was nothing he would enjoy and there were really only a handful of movies he can say he’s ever enjoyed and would watch again. Most of them dark. Some of them just humorous to him. He wasn’t big on movies much these days. They never really kept his attention anymore and if he sat for too long in one spot with too much sobriety on his hands, it was hard to look pass the shadows at his back.
"Do it now so you don’t stink up the car. You’re gonna smell like garlic for a few hours." He shrugged when he said it because he really didn’t care what the car smelled like. He didn’t care much about it, it was just something that she needed to do. "And you might want to go tell Mitchell about the brother. Always report to Mitchell. Golden rule here."
"Thank you." Melissa kept her gaze downcast as she stood and accepted the remedy from him, keeping her comments to herself about his ‘everywhere’ gesture. It smelled just as bad as she thought it would, so when she started rubbing it on her arms her face contorted and twisted, her stomach lurching with a sickening feeling. Even as bad as it smelt though, the effects were almost instantaneous. It relieved the itching in her arms, making it to where she could actually think clearly without the nervous itch of wanting to scratch at her skin, which that in itself was a welcome sensation. The substance was thick and cool and the more she worked it into her skin the more relaxed she could feel herself becoming as she continued working her way up her her arms.
At the mention of Sebastian, Melissa shook her head and rolled her eyes. “I’m pretty sure that I’m the last person he wants to see right now.” She commented sharply, slapping some more of the substance onto her skin with a splattering sound. “I was brought here to help and apparently all I’ve done so far is break out into hives and run with my tail between my legs.” Melissa had stopped applying the remedy at this point and was standing there staring at him and shaking her head. “I just guess I expected things to go a little differently…thought I could prove myself capable. Good even.”
Once again the woman shook her head, flinging her hair over her shoulders as she started applying the remedy once more, only this time to her neck. It was obvious that she was annoyed, but it was more than that. She was upset with herself. Disappointed even. Sure, things weren’t over yet but with everyone always throwing around how powerful she was, how dangerous, only to have things end up like this? Disappointed might have even been an understatement. As she finished up with her neck Melissa’s gaze fell to her chest and then rose to meet his, surely he didn’t really mean everywhere? He was a guy so of course he wouldn’t understand the discomfort of applying something so foul between and under one’s breasts, but still.
"Do I really have to put this everywhere?” Melissa mimicked the circular motion he had made earlier, as if that would help get her point across. She was almost positive he was going to say yes, probably just to tease her but she figured asking would be better than simply assuming.
Mitchell waited for Deacon to take the lead, watching her make her way to the side of the building. The inside looked quiet and dark, but it was rarely a good indication of anything. Even if no one was home, doesn’t mean nothing was home, and if nothing else then it could just be warded to look that way. Either way, it left him with quiet approval that she took the caution she did, and he mimicked it when the approached the building. The ground sucked at his boots and made it harder to keep completely quiet, but he suspected it didn’t matter much.
He took position on the other side of the door before she shoved it open, gun still at the ready and finger on the trigger. Nothing greeted them, no witch’s familiar and no demon, though the air vibrated like there should be the second somewhere. It left him with growing sense of unease that was nothing he let affect him beyond his awareness of it.
The inside of the building only had that feeling spreading, a pervasive thing that left his veins cold. The masks that hung behind them in the woods were mimicked here, twisted faces held on black strings casting mutated shadows across the floor. Runes were scrawled on the walls, most of them blackened with age, but some of them were still red with what he imagined was the substance used to draw them.
Melissa’s question came quietly from somewhere at his elbow, and he resisted the urge to look back at her when it came. He didn’t ask what she meant, because he assumed he already knew. That sensation that had the hair on the back of his neck standing up, the feeling like eyes crawling over his skin. The electric crackle of dark magic in the air, and beneath it all, a heavy malevolence that was more than familiar to him. There was the urge to reach for the rosary beads around his wrist, to draw power and equilibrium from them, but he kept his hands on his gun and most of his attention ahead of them.
"I feel it." He kept his voice low, because he didn’t see the point in making their presence more obvious than it already was. He doubted it mattered, because they were known, but it was habit he didn’t strive to change. "Something’s here." He added the words almost as an afterthought, in case Deacon needed them.
Deacon had her flashlight out now, so he put his own away, trading it for the comfort of the beads around his wrists. He tugged one loop free with his thumb, letting the cross settle against his palm. There was inherent power in such a small object, and he was aware that it was his belief in it that made it that way. He drew on it all the same, quiet litanies running through the back of his mind as he started inside the hut. It required him tilting his head to the left just to avoid what looked like a windchime made of animal bones, but he doubted it was the worst of the horrors hidden inside its wooden walls.
"Stay close," he said the words over his shoulder, all the while wondering if Roy was even necessary for temptation to take hold. The pull of black magic was strong here, and while her propensity for it was the reason Melissa had come to them, it also meant she would forever be listed as a potential threat. A danger that might have to be put down, and if that day was coming sooner rather than later then it was better he learned it now.
This place sucked and there was a familiar kind of heaviness in the air. She wasn’t magic, and she couldn’t feel beyond the five basic senses God had given her, but she remembered what danger felt like and her body had become attuned to it. Danger was here, hanging in macabre decor and lacing the air. It reminded her of her times with the priest, and the small gold cross that sits around her neck, hidden beneath her clothes feels a little bit heavier, but it’s a reassuring weight.
The floorboards creaked under her weight as she walked farther into the building, groaning and sinking a bit enough to give her pause. When Mitchell says that something is here, Billie only takes that as confirmation of her own gut feeling. She swings the light around but she doesn’t immediately spot a closet or anyplace for something to hide, unless of course it’s using some kind of cloaking spell.
"Does this shit mean anything?" she asks, and though she recognizes a few of the symbols and markings on the walls and floor, it’s nothing that gives her much. Witches hadn’t been her forte. With her father it had been more of inhuman brand of monster, and the priest had only handled demons, and the occasional monster only if Billie heard of one and refused to leave until she’d killed it. She had run the gamut on killing things but witches, they were just… something she had trouble understanding. They were too human for her to hate, so instead they mostly confused her. The confusion wouldn’t stop her from killing one though, if she had to.
Walking out farther into the hut-like structure she looks around again, trying not to be bothered by the creaking and groaning of the floor boards under the trio’s feet. “Okay, where the hell-” she cuts off as an odd snapping sound cuts through the heavy air, and that’s the only warning she has before the floor collapses beneath her feet and she goes plummeting down into the dark pit beneath.
The hut was filled with variously sinister artifacts, but it wasn’t necessarily those artifacts that drew Melissa’s attention. The feeling she was feeling, it almost felt familiar the further into the hut she got. As she looked back to Sebastian and Billie, the witch took a moment to really take in the sight of them. Sebastian standing there, his prayer beads rattling between his finger’s. Of course, he was an exorcist so it made sense that he found comfort in something so small. She could see the cross at the end of the beads as the man moved and the idea made Melissa almost cringe. She hated rosaries. Sure, they were pretty, and it was nothing personal against Sebastian or anything, but after what those priests had done to her all those years ago, she honestly doubted she would ever be able to look at a cross the same way again.
Turning her attention to Billie then, Melissa crossed the room to where the woman was standing and then passing her to look at the symbols on the wall. It was the same archaic symbols she had seen on the trees but the language itself was hard to pin point. She liked to believe she had a way with languages and that made her valuable but half of the time, especially with witches, there were often symbols that didn’t exist outside of whatever that particular witch practiced. The one thing she did notice was that these symbols, whatever the were, had been painted in hastily. The lines were broken in some places and dotted in others where as a whole it should have been a complete solid stroke. That’s when Melissa turned to the other wall, and moved back and forth across the room, silently, but wildly as if trying to put together pieces of the of a puzzle.
The last symbol that Melissa finally stopped at looked different then the rest. While the other’s had been written in a rush, this last one had been delicately scripted. Almost lovingly so, which made the witch wonder. Why were all of the other one’s so sloppily drawn and this one…this one that stood out among the others, that almost seemed as if it were in a different language all together. The witch blinked then rapidly stepping back from the wall and turning to Sebastian with wide eyes. But it was too late.
Melissa could hear the floor falling out from beneath them, moving just in time and pressing her back against the wall just to watch Billie disappear into darkness. Her shoulder hurt where she had flung herself out of the way and she realized that whatever she had thought the wall was made out of clearly wasn’t. She coughed as the air filled with dust, the walls shaking at the force of the collapse and by the time it was all settled the bone chimes above them rattling back and forth echoing in the silence, Billie was gone, and the hole in the ground was staring back at them ominously, like a giant dark eye.
"The symbol." Wide eyed she looked back to Sebastian then. "I’ve seen it before…or a variation of it." She spoke quickly her gaze flickering back to the hole. "It’s a summoning sigil…"
"You do realize you came to me for help, yeah?" he asked back at her question. She could stand there and be snotty to him all day if she wanted to, but for the moment, he was the one standing in the doorway blocking her from coming in and getting any sort of help. He could have said no. He could have and should have deferred her to Mitchell if she was having some kind of medical crisis. But he didn’t and whether she realized it or not, it wasn’t something he would probably do often. As it was, he’d already been out and could easily pick up something for an allergy. It was the only reason. He didn’t know who he was trying to convince.
Finally stepping aside, he let her in and when she made a comment about the movie on the tv, he snorted, but didn’t say anything. No, they didn’t sparkle, but it was best for her to figure it out on her own. Even though she probably already knew. Christ, how many vampires were in the house now? He almost laughing thinking about Niko sparkling out there in the sun. Then he made a face because why the hell was he thinking about Niko at a time like this.
Heading for the grocery bag sitting on the dresser, he made a motion for her to sit at the round table in the corner near the window. The phone book lay open on it from when he’d ordered the Chinese food and he was just glad some place around here had delivered. Pulling out a few things, he’d gotten an assortment of remedies because she hadn’t actually given him many details over the phone. From the looks of it, it was simple allergies. Like touching a peanut would have done to his first girlfriend. “You know what asafoetida is?” he asked as she pulled the spice out with a bottle of castor oil.
"I’m sorry, I…" Melissa shook her head as she bit at her bottom lip, following him to the small room and listening intently for the click of the door as he closed it behind them. This room was a lot smaller than the library, so if he tried baiting her like last time she would have nowhere to go. No where to run. Which made the woman immediately regret having teased him in his own space. Roy was a lot bigger than her she noticed then as she stared at him from the corner of her eyes. A good two feet taller maybe, and his shoulder’s were wide, broad. Melissa looked away from him then and down to her hands instead where she had nervously started scratching again. He was right. She had gone to him for help and while the reasoning was little more than anything out of the ordinary, she was still in no place to be judging anyone.
As he motioned for her to have a seat, Melissa nodded her head hesitantly and sank into the chair without a second thought. There was a phone book on the table, opened to some Chinese restaurant, and as her eyes moved around the room, she could see what was left of Roy’s dinner on the nightstand beside the bed. Briefly she wondered what it was before realizing that once again she was scratching at her skin, suddenly thankful that she purposely kept her nails short. While she had just teased him about there being more than one side effect from allergic reactions, truthfully she wasn’t sure what would be worse the itching or the sneezing, and with a curt nod of her head she mentally decided to herself that she would have honestly rather had the sneezing any day.
"Asafoetida?" Melissa quoted him, her gaze shifting back to him as she curiously studied his face. "I take it you’re asking if I know of it’s magical uses, and yes, I do. Devil’s Dung." She nodded her head with a brief smile as her thoughts wandered. "I always used to laugh at my mother when she called it that." The witch shrugged then, and unzipped her jacket then, finally having enough of the discomfort. "Smell’s equally as appalling as it’s name if memory serves, however, it is quite appropriate seeing as how it’s typically used as a preventative, correct?"
Of course, it was often used for other things as well, Melissa noted darkly, sliding her arms one at a time from her jacket, the cool air of the room causing the hairs to stand on end. Often it could be used in spells dealing with black magic, and various other sorts of evil spells that typically ended badly for whomever it was being used against. It was funny how herbs worked that way, could be used for both good and evil. Sort of like herself, she supposed. Looking down at her bare arms, she could see that the reaction covered a better part of her fore and upper arms, and regrettably, even without looking she could feel it speckled across her breasts. The idea made her blush but she kept her thoughts to herself, as she rubbed at the back of her arms looking back up and watching him carefully.