Forty four hours later on the dot Darren and myself were relaxing in armrests back in the Gold Coast beach front, high on the cliffs and out of sight from prying mundane eyes. Glasses cold to the touch were in our hands as we sipped like gentlemen at cola and lemonade mixed together, a fine combination if I do say so. Neither of us was outwardly in bad spirits so it seemed as if we were merely enjoying the afternoon, chatting the hours away as we drank and sometimes unleashed foul winds upon an unsuspecting world, mostly Darren did not me I swear.
Waiting patiently as could be I fiddle don occasion with the amulet laid across my neck and pondered the long and short term affects the existence such a device could have. What it would mean for the balance of power so vaunted by my people and how they would rail in anger, even fear that it was out and active in the world. Perhaps, could I even use this on myself? Draining my cup I stopped such thoughts in their tracks for they were useless to me now. All that mattered now was the plan more or less coming to fruition, in confronting Patrick and therefore my past and very nature in such a way that I had always wished to avoid.
Running would be so easy, but not for the others. Darren and Camilla, they were something alright and I envied what they had now and always but I wanted them to have it especially since I was never likely to have it myself. Even now as I was preparing for this confrontation with him and being in this friendship was still strange and new to me at least in this form. Allies and peers certainly they were expected and encouraged but friends? Friends simply did not exist in what came before they were unheard of though I suppose Patrick had considered me his friend.
By the magic just let this be over soon one way or another, I do not think I can keep this up for much longer. As if in answer to my solemn prayer Patrick himself and his bodyguard rose above the edge of the steep hill and made their way to us one with a pleased smile the other still nothingness betraying no emotion. I will let you decide which belonged to which to give you something to think on. Darren and I then both stood up and folded over our chairs into the small cubes they originated from and tucked them away for safe keeping. No one wants to destroy a helpless and invaluable armchair now do they?
Darren sidled over closer to the Fomorian who kept a respectable distance from its master who now met with me face to face once more.Hands in his suits pockets standing triumphant before me Patrick began the conversation on his terms. “Splendid for you to come Lysander, you have made an excellent choice of course and it will be good for the family to see you back home where you belong. Word down the vine is that the old schloss is door and lifeless without tis prodigal child running across its rooms and weaving magic about the halls. Your parents and the Assembly at large will be utterly delighted for you to make your grand return among our ranks where you were always meant to be.”
Gazes locked onto one another through experience and habit I kept the ball rolling and began to play my part in this play. “You are right certainly. You were always right in the end old friend so why fight it the inevitable when I face a headsman’s axe if I misbehave more than is necessary. Five years is not what I wanted out of my parents grasp and I am still jittery after the aberrant attack. However, I will have more freedom once I return as they now know I value that more than anything else and I will have the resources I need to do what I truly wish to do not just making potions.”
He took it in as his due to this praise, words he had been waiting to hear all along from me to tell him that of course he was right and that I was ever so sorry for doubting him. He removed his hands from his pockets and glanced aside to the ocean and beach below us past the cliff line. “Think nothing of it Lysander truly. Mistakes of youth happen and between the two of us I to have had a few issues myself with my own family though not quite as drastic as yours I still understand”.
My heart rate began to pick up as I waited in anticipation using all of my will and experience I was able to keep my face neutral as far as I could tell as Patrick did not seem to be reacting in any way to my body language or posture. It was then that his phone began to chime with a Gaelic Rock chime and he begged my forgiveness while he answered the phone. “This is Lord MacDermit speaking who is this? Magi Dominic splendid to hear from you again in such short notice. I hope that you have considered my offer carefully. Superb then we can begin to set a date.”
Eyes now averted and with his side now directed towards me I seized the moment and using my hands half behind my back I began to move and weave the magic of Patrick around him before he could react. At first nothing seemed to happen as the seconds ticked by and sweat began to slide down my face and trembling hands. Rushing force and energy shivered and coursed through my body as the amulet awoke and began its work and I could see the magic within and around Patrick consolidating and moving in on itself.
Patrick released a gasping breath and a heave still clutching the phone tightly in his hand against his head as the amulet began to strip him of what made him such a threat.
“Xander the –” was the only warning I received when a colossal and unstoppable force collided into my side sending me spiralling in the air for a heartbeat before crashing back down to reality. The amulets work was paused as I was well out of its range with the enraged Fomorian standing above me its full monstrous form revealed. A single red rimmed eye bore down at me with a huge taloned hand piercing through my garments and into my gut with a self satisfying thrust.
Black filled my vision when the pain hit home racing across my thin body while blood and bile fought over who got to spew forth from my lungs and mouth first. With a sucking and wrenching sound the Fomorian withdraw its gore covered talon, leering down at me to lick the gore of in a taunt as its raised foot was prepared to snap my neck in twain. Tearing into the creature with unmatched fury and power on the art of Darren was all that saved me from death by goat thing as he launched them both near the cliffs edge to duke it out between them, Celtic godling to Finnish troll.
Hand over my leaking gut I struggled with the other and grabbed a distilled potion and chugged the whole vial thinking the after taste only small punishment when compared to my lethal stomach wound. I could only scream as my flesh began to reknit and my insides healed over from the damage dealt, my entire body shaking with my regeneration spasms. A minute or so passed until I was able to breathe properly and then finally move even as half my body still trembled with the after affects of the physical trauma and the regeneration.
Before I even had time to react or properly stand a foot connected with my jaw and I tumbled onto my arse again head ringing with the impact. I coughed up residual blood from my throat and braced just in time as another foot came down to my head, blocking it with my elbow sending shivers of agony across my left arm. Blow after blow connected with me as I curled into a ball to help defend myself from each consecutive kick to my head back or gut. A very pained and human roar came from Patrick as he unleashed all hell onto me with a lack of control and intense emotion I did not think him actually capable of for never had he demonstrated the capacity to do so before now. This did not stop him now for each kick felt like a hammer on my weakened bony frame and his roar sounded like thunder.
“Rebellious, stupid and rebellious even after all of the chances you have been given. You were given everything, everything to make you happy and content despite never, not once giving anything back in exchange. No more Lysander! No more bullshit no more whims no more getting out of doing your duty, for once in your damned life you will do as you are told!”
More kicks were delivered more viciously this time even as my insides were still healing and all I was able to do was lie in a ball taking these hits trying to let the two sources of pain wash out and nullify one another by deadening my nerves in a vain hope of respite. Flood gates open Patrick continued his barrage of words along with the heel of his boots. “You will come back with me, you will be tested no even experimented on if that is what is required but you will do it for the Assembly for your family and for me. Every time you failed every time you showed weakness I was the one who bailed you out me! I even kept your weaknesses hidden from you but all you did was grow more troublesome and resentful. You are no different from me, you killed them as well and moved you hypocrite, and you killed them as well.”
Something snapped then at that, something dark and deep within me as the voices crawling in my head finally broke through the trap door, my barrier and spilled forth inside of me. Crying mournfully and with a new black rage all the pain inside of me melted away as I rolled aside from Patrick’s latest kick to crawl to my feet and lash out with my magic. Vicious forces slammed against Patrick’s hasty shield forcing him over a meter away and cracking at least one of his ribs in the process.
Ignoring the amulet I flung more power at him trying to knock him down to punish him back, for making this happen for threatening to destroy the balance that the people had here, for making me remember. Rage and bitterness took over as I unleashed more offensive magic at Patrick then I had ever allowed myself to or been able to do in the past and the earth was torn up around him, his suit shredded and his knuckles bruised. Thunderous blasts smashed against Patrick as he tried to block or deflect my attacks and was on the back foot for a few moments and I glorified in my imminent victory. This imbalance lasted until Patrick blocked my last attack and then the earth around me began to tremble and buckled beneath me as my legs fell into a small hole in the ground.
Air honed like a blade sliced to the bone across my upper chest and shoulders even as I was pulling myself out and then the earth moved up in a rush slamming into my legs forcing me to buckle and collapse in on myself. Gasping as my adrenaline ran out and the pain began to envelop me once more Patrick gathered his power around him for a decisive blow to either end me or incapacitate me I no longer knew for certain. So this is how it ends here on some cliff at the hands of this dark mirror of myself. Darren and the Fomorian continued to war amongst themselves titanic blows filling the air with their sounds and the roars of giants the ground and whole cliff trembling under their blows and strength.
Patrick forced my exhausted and battered head up to face him and something lay in those eyes I could not identify but it was knew and it added to the broken and blackened rage of his demeanour. “Weak, you were always weaker than me. I proved you wrong Lysander and even after this I still won’t kill you because in spite of everything you have done I still thought you were my friend. And now your life as you wanted is over you will live for me and only me because I own you I know you like no one else you filthy touched!”
Feeling the magic before I saw it my body shuddered at the thought of what was to come but I do not think I cared enough any longer to resist him to resist that he was right. I am a hypocrite and by the magic does he know me well. Eyelids only partially open I almost missed the flutter of movement in the sand as it swept up into two distinct small figures either side of Patricks head who was entirely focussed on me at that moment.
It was because of that singular focus that he did not see when the two sand sprites slammed against his head and wrapped themselves around his eyes and face. His blow went wide and tore a chunk of the cliff, almost decapitating Darren as he fought on against his larger and far older foe. Cursing to the wind and clawing at his face Patrick spun and moved back three steps to remove the sprites giving me what could have been my last and only opening. My body ached all over and I could not feel my legs, but my mind and arms still functioned so I acted half out of instinct guided somehow by the amulet which still called out to me and half by some feint understanding of what needed to be done.
Within the precious moments it took Patrick to remove the two sand sprites from his bleeding face I wove magic through and around the amulet and using its guidance I grabbed hold using my will of Patricks own magic locking him in place. Face bleeding he gasped open mouthed eyes filled with terror and fury as I wrapped his magic in on itself, layer after layer, twisting and folding until it was compressed into a chest I could now discern. With that image clear before me I twisted it and locked the chest shut and then guided it back into Patrick even as he screamed in denial and inner pain as I used my last crumb of strength to bind his magic within him, now and forevermore.
Silence as the magic dissipated and the amulet fell into a contented sleep which was right about when Patrick and I could no longer hold ourselves up and both found ourselves on our sides in the dirt and the grass. Images danced and played across my vision as a final tremendous thud was felt across the Cliffside and a snarling roar of the victor broke the heavens asunder. Two of the images dancing around flew right up to me with concerned looks on their remarkably sprite like features.
I gave them a bloody red smile as yet another larger figure loomed above them a troll I think with wings hovering above him which slowly turned into an injured and battered man with a crow standing next to him. The crow knelt down to me and forced some vial concoction down my raw gullet helpless as I was to stop it and the crow began to speak nonsense to me. “Well done guvna you did it right and proper. I will take Lord Clover from your hands and keep him from hurting himself for now until we hand him back to his family with smiles and roses. Love that they will but for now rest up let yourself heal and let Sir Farts a lot get you out of here for now ey?”
My stupefied nod must have convinced him to go away as next thing I knew I was being carefully carried up by Darren who had his left eye shut closed due to drying blood, a once again broken nose to accompany his split lip and what I could make out to be a fractured shoulder. Carrying me away he gave his best smile, “You look like what I used to feed our hounds.” Laughter quite literally split my insides as I coughed up more blood while still managing to impress everyone with my dangling uselessly in his arms skills.
“That belt came in handy after all we must thank Raphael and his family for taking it from Thor’s desiccated corpse one of these days. I think that’s the favour of his paid off with good business and karma coming our way from now on yayyy.” Exhaustion and denial was the name of the game with Darren as he rebuffed me on my dreams.
“No not likely, we have crossed a line for them here next they will send in the elders like your family directly or worse. Beating down their favourite emissary was like declaring war Lysander you know that and that amulet of yours is our equivalent of starting an arms race, this will keep going and we will be in for long hard times ahead.” Looking back at me he smiled again if bitterly and finished with, “Even so, would not take this back, well maybe the beating yes but to help you I would do it again. Just not a third time as Camilla would kill us both at that point.”
Tears spilled out of my eyes from the pain mostly I promise you but at least part of it was because once more my friend overwhelmed me with how much he cares and for so little gain as well. I was lucky to have him. Further thoughts were interrupted by a dull moan which sounded like a beached whale crossed with a tractor engine. Across from us the horribly beaten and bloodied Fomorian began to push its upper body up to face us, eye mostly swollen over and closed with teeth missing as well for extra measure due to a solid troll punch.
“Oh forgot about you. Well what do you want to do now then your free no master to rder youa round now I think.” Out of the corner of my eye I caught Jarli hauling a sullen and sobbing Patrick over his shoulders and opening a portal around himself so he did not damage Patrick through other means of transportation. Our eyes met one final time Patrick and I, a final barbed word was mouthed as the golden light soon drew him in as Jarli entered the portal for whatever realm or cell he had in mind for a depowered changeling.
Grunting in understanding the Fomorian plainly said to me in gaelic that he was going to recover from this and then transfer some funds across before the MacDermits discovered their sons fate and hide somewhere in Australia or perhaps the Fae realm if he could. Darren and I wished him well but not before I asked Darren to give him one of my remaining runes as his legs appeared to be broken as was one of his arms. “Take the rune it is poor concillation for you soon to be wanted by the Assembly and losing your job but it will restore your body to its state before this fight and then some for a good while longer. Take it with our blessing and go in peace, there is enough bad blood here already for a dozen realms worth.” Eye brows raised Darren nevertheless handed over the rune to the Fomorian and he clearly felt relieved about the whole fight after I did this and the Fomorian grateful for my mercy and now aide in healing it agreed not to come after us and stay out of our way as best as it was able in the times ahead.
Two down only six to go but it was good I had helped someone now instead of hurting them I think my karma might just balance itself out finally. Too weak and wounded to do anything else useful Darren used the dime sphere to get us out of there away from this beach which had served as a catalyst point and focus for so many events in my life over this last week and for that I was not sure how I felt about it anymore. It hardly mattered in the end we would deal with the fall out afterwards we agreed as bleeding and half dead we two lost heroes staggered into the golden light hoping for a rest and respite in a world now that much more lethal to us but now filled with renewed possibilities.
Both of us arrived back home to my nice soft bed which was ruined by my blood but hey it’s the little things in life so they say. Camilla arrives not long after to berate us for being idiots, slapping us to kingdom come and then assisting Darren in mixing minor potions to help mend us along with whatever Jarli gave me after the fight which I should have asked about early but oh well. Camilla set Darren up in his own room and took control as our official nurse for our injuries and threatened to force feed us soup if we refused to eat it willingly. Darren being a troll was back to his old self in a day and a half but with only minor potions I still needed time to heal physically so he and Camilla stayed around most of the time to help me use the bathroom, eat and change clothes while I was almost incapacitated. Not a bad few days really.
My dreams were still plagued by the usual nightmares and visions but now the soothing sensation which had been there before drawing me away from my fears and failures into a new room one that I was not sure actually did exist within the castle. A library filled with books, scrolls and artefacts was laid out before me which took away my fear my doubt even for only a little while I felt at peace. Was I going mad was this it did the fight with Patrick finally send me off the deep end I thought out loud. A soothing voice lifted me off my feet, “No Lysander you have brought this peace upon yourself or at least you are beginning to. I can finally enter here fully now before it was so difficult due to the nightmares I could not get in.”
I spun fists clenched gathering my will even here in this dream to battle whatever was speaking directly to me within my own dream. The sight of the individual made me freeze mid motion however for barely three feet in front of me stood the girl the one I fed upon the one I murdered. “I I’m so sorry I no, not again please!’’ on my knees I begged her to go to leave me be to stop haunting my mind each night I slept. She did not leave in fact she moved forwards to me with a purpose even as I tried to recoil from her she grabbed both of my hands firmly forcing me to meet her eyes. Icy blue depths looked down at me as she sighed and placed her hand on my head as tears streamed from my eyes.
“No Lysander I will not torment you anymore but only if you make that happen if you let go of your guilt, fear and shame. They lied Lysander you did not kill me at least not properly anyway. You brought me back from nothingness and you terrified them because of that, they locked me away so you would never know.”
“No, no you died I saw it I cannot undo death your lying!” but oh by the magic I wished it to be true wanted it to be. Wiping away my drying tears she brought her head in to touch mine and I felt a resonance not so different to that of the amulet the ‘Life Binder’ had with me. Her smile was sad yet determined and she whispered softly to me in a voice that dissolved any doubt one could have in the face of it.
“I am not dead Lysander, you killed me and you saved me that day. Life Binder and life ender to me I want to help you Lysander and now I have a way in I can, I can soothe your dreams and help you end your nightmares.” The girl transformed then grew and aged still her but five years ahead of when I had last seen her. She was much taller now closer to my own height, slim figured with long wavy black hair to match her piercing blue eyes. She pulled me up to meet her faces closed noses almost touching. “Now, wake up.”