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CHAPTER 2: The Boy at the Hospital

I watched the vivid images swirl around in my eyes; the strange and unfamiliar rush of terror that spread across my bones and chilled the blood in my veins. I remember screams and shouting, fires burning, and a small set of people running away in terror. I was in a small town with dirt roads and endless fields that stretched as far as the eye could see; the tranquility of the once vacant land overrun with fear and chaos. I stood by watching helplessly as a group of people all running as quickly as their feet could carry, they all at once became slaughtered where they stood; blood staining the once glowing white roses that paved the streets like stars that had fallen from the night sky. Men in dark cloaks with pale fingers were slashing weapons about like a warfront; all that could be seen were their quick hands and their blood curdling smiles spreading higher as they killed victim upon victim. Suddenly, I heard crying and saw at once a little girl---she was at a concert. Her brown eyes glowing in the midst of fire as the sky turned red and black with smoke. I could hear the eerie sound of grinding metal as I gazed back and saw that massive screen tipping down towards us, and left the sanctuary of my hiding spot as suddenly as the men in cloaks had vanished. She and I alone in a world that was growing darker by the second, I wrapped my arms around her and—

I awoke suddenly with a jerking spring of my back. I started hearing numerous faintly beeping machines and felt around as some odd cords began tugging at the crease of my elbow. I slid my hand out to the side only to touch the cool cloths and comfort coming from my fingertips; strange rubber tubes were lying softly on the drifting side of my bed, pumping some sort of medicine through to my veins. I was in a hospital room, white and clean; the room decorated with the lively images of landscapes and get well posters designed to boost a patients' enthusiasm. The window was bright and lively with a blue sky and sparkling sun that shone so high in the sky that I thought it must be at least noon if not later in the day.

I tried to sit up and felt the intense pulsing from old wounds tighten up in my back and shoulders. My arms and chest were all wrapped up in healthy cloth bandages and a tiny bracelet of paper on my wrist had a barcode and also read “Jane Doe” as if I had no actual identity. The rest of the information on it formed only numbers and codes, probably for whatever operation I had, and I suddenly remembered the accident at the concert.

“What happened last night?” I mumbled to myself, the dry words coming out a mere whisper as my lips cracked and parted from hours of not talking. My view came into play as I made out a blurred spot of darkness seeming so out of place for a room covered in so much white furniture. “Who’s there?” my voice cracked, seeming to get louder the more I tried to talk. I managed to sit up on my elbow and saw him standing there, leather jacket, pale skinned, brown hair, and a gleam of watchful dark eyes that seemed to grow in interest as I woke.

The face from my dream, the boy with the green eyes, he was almost a dead ringer. He was yelling at me the last I saw him, pointing his finger at me as though I’d done something wrong; now he just stood there calmly in the corner of the room with a tiny smirk of fondness across his chiseled, strict looking face. The only difference between seeing this boy now aside from last night were those dark eyes, lacking any feeling to them whatsoever as he started walking towards me. I could have just sworn before that they were a glowing green color in my dream? I cleared my cracking throat and asked again in a much harder tone, “Who are you and what happened to me last night!?”

“Technically it was three nights ago,” he said back to me with a warm voice in a chipper matter of fact tone. I honestly wasn’t expecting a lot of reply from him, and the way he mocked his reply back at me actually made me angrier than if he had said nothing. “What are you looking at?” He scoffed.

“You!?” I gasped as his voice filled me with a terror again as though I’d never heard another human speak before; it was almost like interacting with a ghost and at this point I wasn’t so sure that was an out of place possibility. Maybe I might still just be dreaming? I thought. Stupidly I only spoke the same word again in a confused whisper, “You—”

“Me?” he looked astonished, but his tone never faltered. He pointed his finger at me, his arms still folded across his chest as his amused grin grew wider. “So it is true. You can see me here, can’t you girl?”

“Am I not supposed to?” My voice sounded hesitant as though I shouldn’t be talking to him. He could just be another dream, another figment of my imagination; though, the pain in my limbs felt real enough and he seemed amply existent for this all to just be my mind pretending.

“Not really, no,” he seemed amused by my question. He took a step towards me and I heard the sound of his boots stepping lightly across the floor. His smile widened as he talked down to me with an impressed gleam. “Not if you were a normal human being. You wouldn’t be able to see me if you were normal.”

“You’re insane!” I spat, shaking my own head in retaliation. Suddenly I came to the conclusion that I was definitely still dreaming, hallucinating maybe, and this would never happen in the light of a million years, not to me it wouldn’t. “Strike that, I’m insane and you’re not really here.” I shut my eyes and folded my arms, stating, “I hit my head and now I’ve gone mental, that’s logical enough. When I open my eyes you won’t really be here—and I will have been talking to myself this whole entire time.”

His stepping drew back and I watched through a peeking eye as he shoved his hands down into his leather pockets; he waited by a little dresser just underneath my powerless, black television and glanced down at a small, porcelain vase with a flock of white sun flowers resting lazily in the pot. There was a shining in his glance that made his black eyes seem to burst with tiny specks of amber until they appeared to form a whole different golden brown color, a color that was burning with thought and intrigue.

“If I weren’t here,” he snickered, raising a hand deliberately. “Then, could I do this?” he flicked a vase off of the table, shattering ceramic pot and watery mulch along the clean linoleum floors of the hospital.

The noise was enough to make me jump and when I did, I heard a set of abrupt pacing footsteps coming closer to my door. The access barged open with an equal blend of restraint and excitement as a nurse’s raised voice came pounding in through the silence of my room, asking as if towards the walls, “What was that!?” I pretended to shut my eyes and assumed the innocent illusion of sleep as the nurse added, “It must have been the wind? I guess I’ll go get a broom.” Her sluggish demeanor made the boy in the corner of the room snort and I peeked open my eyes again to see him in the same exact spot that he was standing in before. The nurse had not seen him at all.

“That doesn’t prove anything,” I told him, “The imagination is a powerful thing, and I have a very lively sense of imagination. For all I know, I’ve adapted to some sick duel personality and I only think I’m talking to you—when in reality I probably am you and soon I’ll be blowing up buses, calling my own cellphone, and shooting myself in the leg!”

“You read too many stories.” He rolled his eyes, “And even the most powerful hominid imaginations aren’t supposed to see straight through a professional spell of glamour like looking through a thin glass window. Especially a glamour of my particular caliber.”

“Hominid?” I wondered, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

He spoke quickly as though it were a painful inconvenience to be explaining this to me. “You know, Darwin, evolution, primates, and humans—the bane of the church and science, yadda yadda.”

“You’re calling me a monkey?” I arched my brows.

“Actually, I’m not!” he seemed to revel in my confusion and that annoying little smirk grew wider across his face like the grin of a Cheshire cat. “That’s the problem, see? You, little girl, are not any normal sort of hominid and with the powers that you revealed at the concert—”

“The concert?” I muttered, my voice rising as I screamed, “You were at the concert! You—you were the one cutting the wires off of the jumbotron weren’t you!? You tried to kill me!”

“Odds are that you were just collateral damage,” he shrugged, taking in my look of aggravation and added on with a polite smile, “But, no madam know it all, I was not the one who cut the cord, just the man who caught the creatures that did do it.” He seemed offended and bowed with a flick of his hand, spitting out a halfhearted, “You’re welcome.”

I contemplated whether or not he was telling the truth, and tried to remember what all had happened the other night at the concert. I was on the top of the fallen screen, I was saved l from being crushed, and this boy was claiming me to be some sort of monster before he took off into the night. Maybe it wasn’t a dream after all?

“I saw you!” my voice quivered in the faintest, “I saw you fly away that night—you just—you jumped into the sky!”

His eyes, black again, rested tiredly and he stepped closer to my bed, chuckling all the while with a faint controlled tone that just longed to sound a bit braggier than it was really supposed to. “Most of us can fly. It really isn’t all that hard if you know the right spells.”

“Spells!?” I laughed, my tone becoming full of sarcasm all too suddenly, as I rolled my eyes high towards the ceiling. “So let me guess, I should be expecting my letter to Hogwarts in three to five business days?” I clasped my hands together and pointed at him with a false wink and a smile. “Oh and the broom is being shipped with sorting hat on the FedEx truck, am I close?”

He seemed slightly confused, but snapped his fingers and sighed as though he finally understood what I was talking about, “That’s what you mortals call “wizard” stuff right?” he gave me a cheap scoff and added, “Sorry princess but the world is more than just books and movies. There are creatures out there that I’ll bet you’ve never even heard about. Like me for example…”

“Oh yeah,” I tried my best not to sound impressed. “You look pretty normal to me?” He gave me an angry stare and corrected, “I am a Luminous!”

“Well whoop-dee-doo for you,” a folded my arms, “I assume you must be some big bad warlock shaman type person with the power of some sacred scarlet rune giving you unlimited power?”

“Your cynicism is uncalled for,” he frowned, but then gave me an honoree grin and further explained, “Plus a rune is a symbol, not some gem that you can touch—” My stare was returned an aggravated glare and he sat roughly on the end of my bed, barely giving me enough time to move my sore leg before he did so. “But, I’ll give you the other things—I am fairly badass and powerful, but not with unlimited power—no one has unlimited power, that just isn’t possible. Sorry to disappoint you, princess.”

“Well excuse me for not being impressed. You know, because with all that so called ‘power’ you still managed to get dozens of innocent people killed!”

His face seemed to turn red as did the iris of his eyes that spastically boiled over the ruby color of blood. He shot to a stand and wagged his finger in my face. “Listen you—"

The sound of the nurse’s return made him go quiet for a moment and I heard her brash stepping soften as she laid her hand the grip of my door. The boy groaned in annoyance and snapped his fingers; in an instant the vase seemed to pick itself back together piece by piece and resumed its rightful place on the table, flowers and contents perfectly in place as if they had never been touched at all.

Swiftly I shut my eyes as the door swung opened and the startled guessing of the nurse echoed through the silence again, her voice full of exhaustion and uncertainty as she muttered allowed, “I need a vacation. You’re losing it old girl.”

“You most certainly are, old girl,” the boy mocked as she shut the door and vanished down the hall. He turned to me, his eyes pallid and ebony colored yet again as he huffed in my direction, “Where were we now?”

“You were about to leave actually.” I motioned towards the door.

He snickered and shrugged, “Whenever you’re ready sweetheart. I’m waiting on you.” I nearly spat whatever saliva I had forming in my dry mouth and scoffed, “What makes you think I’m going with you!? Assuming you’re strictly even real?”

“You’re back on that?” he seemed amused, “Whatever, but I have orders to bring you back the easy way or the hard way, it’s your choice, princess.”

“Stop calling me that!” I growled. He slumped against the corner of the wall, arms folded as I retaliated further, “I don’t even know you! What makes you think that I would just willingly leave the safety of this hospital and go anywhere with you?”

“Aw,” he pouted, mocking me with his tone, “Still afraid of strangers?”

“No! I—I’m eighteen!” I shoved my finger at him, fully noticing just how sore my arms really were from the accident. I winced and grabbed at my sore muscles, feeling the stiches underneath the padded bandages that lined both of my forearms.

For a minute the strange boy’s eyes flashed amber again and he took a few slow steps towards me, digging around for something in his jacket pocket. “Here” He said, handing me what looked like a thin, green tootsie roll. “Eat this, you’ll feel better.”

“Does the phrase ‘I don’t know you’ mean anything to you?” I spat, “It means I don’t trust you nor do I want to eat anything that you just fished from your pocket!”

“I’m hurt,” he placed a hand at his chest, “I’ve only been up here talking to you for the past what---ten minutes? What else do you want from me, a backstory? A certificate of birth and a resume about my life?”

“Maybe!?” I strongly considered, before looking into the corner of the room and utterly caving against every moral that I thought I had. “You could at least tell me your name…that would be a decent start.”

His tense shoulders loosened a little bit and he coughed out a relieved chuckle as though I’d told a funny joke. He placed the green taffy thing forcefully in the palm of my hand and sighed, “Holt.” He stood up and motioned at me impatiently, “Now eat it and get up, I don’t have all day.” I shoved the little candy in my mouth, but instead of tasting like lime or apple—any flavor affiliated with the color green—the thing was bitter and filled my mouth with the sensation that I had just licked moss off of a tire. I shuddered and the boy gave me a look. “What did you expect, cotton candy?” he snickered.

“More or less,” I gagged, forcing the practical poison down my throat. I coughed a few times as the food settled in, but instantly felt the relief in my sore muscles and felt my arms tighten together.

I unraveled my arm and saw the repulsive looking black and purple scars trailing my skin, watching in wonder as they instantly sealed together, leaving only the faintest hint that they had ever actually been there in the first place. “What was that thing?” I wondered brightly.

“Eryn calls it medicine, but I’ve never had the stomach to ask him what’s really in it.” I sat up and could move freely without the limitations of my injuries. The strength of a bear coursing through my healthy limbs made me go berserk with a free, healthy feeling that I never thought I would feel again. “I feel like I just ate a Senzu Bean! Why didn’t you give that thing to me days ago?”

“And miss out on out simulating conversation?” he smirked back, his smile crooked and sarcastic. He said, “If you were so worried about getting better, maybe you should have just eaten one of your beans then?”

“No no, they aren’t real,” I chuckled, “It’s from a television sho—” I caught my own tongue and blushed in humiliation. Normally it takes me a few days before I reveal myself to be a total geek; certainly longer whenever I met any strangers. Holt didn’t seem to notice anything that I had just said and was digging around the dresser drawers for something. “What are you doing now?” I groaned.

He sighed, “I doubt you want to go all over the world in a hospital gown.” The sudden flush of embarrassment returned and I glued my spine back to the bed pillows hoping my idea of backless patient dresses were only a cruel, fabricated myth. “Do you remember what you were wearing?” he asked as he gave up his search with a growl.

“Yeah, but I don’t know where they went!?” I growled, feeling as though my face was about to melt off due to the severity of heat radiating off of my blushing, red cheeks.

He put a hand across his eyes and lifted something to his ear, a phone maybe? “Rory,” Holt said sternly, “Come here for a minute, I need you.”

“Well, well, it’s about time!” I heard the teasing voice revel on the other line.

“Just get over here!” Holt groaned, slamming the phone back in his pocket. He looked at me and my confusion and rolled his eyes. “Rory is a friend of mine; he can help with our little nudity problem you have going on there.”

My face felt even redder if were possible, and the sight of me made Holt laugh in some sick narcissistic sort of enjoyment. “Sorry?” He wasn’t. “Look, I’ll just wait over in the corner until Rory gets here. I won’t even look!”

“Ugh!” I snarled, hiking the bed sheets up to my collar bone, “When’s your stupid friend supposed to get here anyway?”

“Stupid, huh? That hardly seems fair coming from someone you got herself shipped away to the hospital…”

The voice startled me and I turned my head to see another boy standing right beside my bed, so close in fact, that I could read the thin black hands telling me what time it was on his wristwatch. The boy was tall and tanned, with hair that curled slightly over his dark eyes; a silver earring hung from his left ear and a perfect white smile crept across his face as he spoke. His accent was thick, though I couldn’t place it for some reason? Also, he was dressed in black jeans and a dark gray shirt that hugged tightly to his torso to show defined muscles and long scars twisting along his right arm.

Seeing him made me scream and I flew over the side of the bed, wires and buzzers briskly increasing due to my rapidly increased and surprised heart beating. With the swiftness of a speeding bullet, I clasped the back of my gown shut and backed into the corner like a mouse would in sight of a hungry cat.

“Don’t freak her out!” Holt scolded.

He started coming towards me and grabbed my arm, lifting my limp body back to a stand, before I shoved him off with a warning look and I panted breathlessly to find the right words. “Wh—where did he come from?”

I was ignored, but Holt said, “Rory, will you please give the girl back her clothes?”

“I don’t see why I should?” He laughed, jumping literally right over my bed to join us in the corner. “I mean, she did call me stupid.”

“Rory!” Holt’s voice was more stern than annoyed at this point.

The other boy rolled his eyes and chuckled, but he held an outstretched hand in front of my face and lowered it as though he were scanning my body. He lost his smile and seemed so much more concentrated now than he was before as he placed another hand to his temple. “Try to think of what you were wearing before,” Rory told me. A tiny smirk stretched across his face and he added, “Or you could think of something sexy---I mean either is fine with me.”

“Rory, come on!” Holt groaned, “We’re on a schedule. Don’t do this now.”

“Just telling her that it’s an option,” he chuckled, “Seriously though, if you can, I need you to think about what you were wearing.”

I did. I thought of my cozy Superman sweatshirt and the comforting privacy of my jeans; my old shoes, and some underwear would have been great too. In an instant that embarrassing breeze down my back was gone and I felt a change of texture. Looking down I saw my clothes, they were still covered in blood, scratches, and holes, but anything was better than that stupid patient attire.

“I look like a Zombie.” I huffed. Then I took a whiff of my clothes and smelled the rotten stench of sweat, the iron-like odor of dried blood, and the foul scent of putrid three day old garbage clinging to my newly retrieved wardrobe. “Ugh! I smell like a Zombie…”

The boys laughed at me and it was Rory who flipped my hair and chuckled, “Not quite. Trust me, if you ever smelled a member of the undead, then you would not soon forget it.” “So uh, where did you get these things, in the garbage?”

“Probably?” Rory shrugged nonchalantly. It was as if he did this sort of thing all the time, but I know for a fact that I don’t get crappy clothes zapped on me every other Tuesday. How did he do that? I wondered. Boy! I must be higher on hospital meds than I thought.

“Come on,” Holt ordered, “It’s time to go see Eryn.”

“That guy who made the medicine?” I wondered, “You want me to meet you clairvoyant leader or something?”

“He’s like our babysitter?” Rory shrugged, “Also our physician, our teacher, and our personal punisher—he’s like a father figure really.” I lifted a brow, “What for? What did I do?”

Holt rolled his eyes at me again, “He can see if you’re a Spectre or not. Try to keep up, princess.”

“You keep calling me that---a Spectre,” I shrugged innocently, “But I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. I really don’t think I should trust my life to the hands of boys like you anyway. This is nuts! I’m not going anywhere with you and I don’t want to meet your leader!”

“More of a principal maybe?” Rory shrugged and grabbed one of my arms. Holt held onto the other and I tensed up. Soon after, they pulled me to the open floor and Rory smiled wide. “To Eryn we go!”

I looked out at the white hospital room and had half a mind to call for help, but as soon as I opened my mouth, I could no longer see the sterile ivory walls or smell the lemon scented linoleum floors of the hospital. Instead, I saw a door made of black iron bars and entangling green trails of morning glory that wound through the grooves of faded metal. There was a strong smell in the air, a mixture of fresh mulch and ancient dust that altogether made me feel like I was in some old abandoned castle from the 1800’s.

Daylight was streaking in from above, but it felt distant, separated by a thick plate of glass that kept out the wind and sounds of LA. Here there were trees and leaves similar to the way outside should start, but it was encased in bricks on both sides of a sidewalk path, so I could not see the sky or roads to tell where I might be at. If I were strictly still in LA anymore, there was no way of my knowing. I attempted to look around, but before I could, the boys practically shoved me through the gate door and I found myself walking down a strange, narrow hallway with them.

“Home sweet home,” Holt grinned.

My voice was a stutter, “H-how?”

“I’m half warlock,” Rory bragged, his nails sliding against the cuff of his collar, “Did Holt not mention that?” Feeling pale I slid backwards, but the boys caught my arms and held me upright again and Rory laughed, “The first teleportation is always the hardest, don’t sweat it, your stomach will catch up with the rest of you in a few seconds.”

I growled as we continued pacing the floor; my stomach in knots, but the rest of me seemed to still be in one piece. I swallowed down the last of my newfound nausea and started my argument back up. “Take me back to the hospital, right now! I’m not a Spectre, I am a human being!”

“Are you?” Holt shrugged, “Hominids cannot see people like Rory and me without us letting them, and the last time I checked, we were still wearing our glamour runes, weren’t we Rory?”

The other boy slid his sleeve higher to reveal the carved tattoo symbol scribbled into the muscle on his shoulder. He laughed and bragged, “Drew them myself. Yeah, this chick is much more than any ordinary Hominid, that much is certain.”

“The only way to tell for sure is for you to see Eryn,” Holt added, “So either way, you’re not a full-blooded Hominid and that makes you something of value.”

“To who, you?” I spat coldly.

“To the Illuminati,” Rory answered.

“The what?” I was confused beyond belief, but the boys continued leading me through the gothic style hallway as we passed by door after identical, shady looking door.

The floors were a slate cobblestone and there were stone pillars lining the room. To one side there were a series of carved walls that formed large, engraved windows to the outside world, which in this case appeared covered in lush trees and stone walls draped in ivy just on the other side of the neatly cut hedges. To my dismay, I could not see the actual outside from any angle of the windows either. This entire building seemed to be trapped behind never-ending brick walls of pure solitude.

The other half of the hallway housed a series of dark wooden doors that were the shape of sword tips. The hinges on both sides of every entry were symmetrical patterns of black iron ivy; the handles were all intricate stone with carved patterns inscribed within each one in various ways. I only assumed that it was these odd markings that told Holt and Rory what each identical entry held behind its hinges.

“This “Eryn” is he like a friendly Albus Dumbledore sort of guy, or is he going to be some Jabba the Hutt type thing that wants to eat the souls of its victims?” I asked naively.

“What!?” Rory chortled. He lost his hold on my arm in order to grab at his sides which were in a painful series of provoked and outrageous laughter. “Holt, I don’t know what your new girlfriend is saying, but it sure sounds ridiculous!” He cackled harder.

Before I could even retaliate to that, Holt’s serious toned growl stole my cue. He practically strung the words past gritted teeth and he bellowed, “She is not my girlfriend!”

Ouch. He made it sound like being my boyfriend was the equivalent of dating mud. If that isn’t good for a girl’s self-esteem, I don’t know what is? I yanked my arm fervidly out of his grip and folded them deliberately. Rory and Holt continued guiding me, but did not try to escort me manually down the never-ending hallway again.

“I’m---” I huffed, “Look guys…This sort of thing is a little out of my comfort zone. I mean, I almost died and you two just zapped me into a castle in Heaven only knows where.” I rubbed my head, “I’m alone and scared, plus I am confused beyond comprehension! So, I’m sorry for the things I said earlier---”

“Ah, don’t sweat it newbie,” Rory waved, “If you weren’t freaked out, I’d think you were nuts!”

Holt scoffed out a half a laugh and the two stopped suddenly at the arch of a much larger doorway. There was a similar symbol on each of the golden knobs with what looked like a misshapen sun within the boundaries of five flower petals, each crawling away from their center like wildfire. The same exact design formed the pattern on the stone slab hovering over the entry, though the much larger scale of “sun-flower” was embedded within a stone book, unlike the carvings on the handles.

This must be some sort of library? I thought. Butterflies welled up in the deepest pits of my stomach as the two boys pushed passed the door. I was trying my hardest to remember anything I had stored in my brain about symbols and magic, but my search was coming up dry.

At this point I knew exactly three crucial things: one, that I had been in the hospital for at least three days after a tragic accident from a Syllables concert; two, that I had somehow become entangled in a web of Warlocks, Luminous, and absolute magical crap and I wasn't sure how; and three—whatever lived beyond these thick wooden doors, no matter how terrifying or powerful it was, it was going to give me answers to what was going on—and even though it was a risk of safety and comfort, somehow I just knew that whoever it was, this “Eryn,” he was going to help me.

"Did they take the punishment?”

“Yes sir,” the cloaked man bowed, “The Urisks were found at the scene, one of them was sent into custody and the other was killed in the chaos.”

“No matter,” he waved the words away, “This particular loss is nothing to mourn over Mr. Darcy. The test was successful I assume?”

“Yes my lord,” he nodded, “The one under surveillance was not killed during the attack, though we were not able to apprehend her after the Hominids took her into custody for medical treatment.”

“And her performance?” he asked.

“She performed exactly as you had planned she would my lord,” the man spoke with a brightness in his voice now, “You were right in your theories Master Nightshade, the girl must be the remaining Spectre that eluded the Illuminati and the Fallen those many years ago. It is obvious that she does not know yet her potential.”

“Good,” he clapped, “This is good news to hear.”

The man kept his chambers dark, lit only by the fireplace in the corner. The mantle was carved out of a dull, white material and had images of miniature devils twining up each side with weapons and engraved scenes of fire and destruction behind them. Inside the red flames burned vibrantly over the ash remains of torching bones; skulls from unknown victims cracked as the heat split the marrow of their skulls apart and it made the two creatures curled up next to the flames jump awake from their slumber for only a brief moment before they rolled over and returned back to their peaceful snores.

Dogs. They were some sort of devilish monstrosity of dog breed. Massive and muscled, they snored at the foot of their master’s desk; their claws sharp and filed as their massive, hairy arms hugged around the larger bones that couldn’t fit through the fireplace, the remains, licked clean as the beasts gnawed on them in their sleep. Their shark-like teeth were defined to points and their massive jaws drooled over their grim and frightening treats. The beasts yawned and the messenger looked to them alarmed for a moment before returning his gaze to the man called Nightshade.

“My Bandersnatch and I do not enjoy bad news, Mr. Darcy,” said Nightshade. “Well, I don’t, but I do like to think that they rather anticipate it nowadays, the lazy devils.”

“Of course sir,” he swallowed.

“I want our reconnaissance minions to go to the hospital and retrieve our little Spectre before she wakes. We have given the hominids long enough to get their affairs in order. No one will suspect a thing if the girl go missing now.”

The man’s eyes grew huge. “Lord Nightshade,” he shook, “The recon has just returned and they stated that there were simply too many Hominids to retrieve her without being seen.”

Nightshade’s voice grew stern and lost its former amused spark that it had spoken with before. “In that case,” he growled lightly, “I care not if they are seen. Send in a more powerful of out lot in glamour then! I want that Spectre in our care, Mr. Darcy, by any means necessary.”

Darcy gulped and shut his eyes. “The teenagers from Eryn Percival’s school appeared and took the Spectre before they could retaliate. They used the warlock to teleport to their secret location and we have not yet been able to track her down.”


“My lord?” Darcy wondered.

“If the Illuminati should get their hands on the Spectre, they will destroy her,” he replied slowly. Rapidly, he slammed his pale fingers against the top of his mahogany desk and the two Bandersnatch beasts looked up at them. “We need her in order to take that so called “government” apart, and without the girl, we lose everything that we’ve been planning for!” His voice lowered, “Or worse…they teach her how to harness her power and use it to defeat us. Knowing that sniveling Percival I have no doubt in my mind that he will harbor the girl under his wards against the law and his better judgment.” He let out a sigh, “Oh this is bad---this is very bad news, indeed, my dear Mr. Darcy…”

Darcy stiffened and shot a worried glance over to the monstrous dogs that had started to growl at him from the fireplace. With a single snap from Nightshade, the hounds attacked and through the agonizing screams of Mr. Darcy, Lord Nightshade spun around to his voice box and pushed in the receiver.

“Yes Lord Nightshade?” a receptionist replied.

Past the froths and screams from the background, Nightshade hardly spoke any louder than he had been before and his voice was utterly calm. He grinned one wicked smile of white teeth and replied, “I would like for you to send two of our finest ogres into a little campus in Los Angeles, near the broken portal into Hollandale, and then I would like for you to order them to wait for the Spectre’s return.

“Shall I send them to be glamoured at once, my lord?” she wondered.

“Yes, go ahead and we’ll try this in the law’s way,” he started to chuckle darkly under his own breath, “However, I want this one captured at any cost my dear. Make it abundantly clear that these two Ogres are to do anything in their power to retrieve her for me, glamoured or no.”

“Of course, sir,” her voice responded quickly, “I shall send them at once.”

“Oh and Rebekah,” Nightshade sang lightly.

“Yes sir?”

“Please send for another messenger, I am afraid mine has been given the rest of his career off all too suddenly, and I will be needing one in these great times of suspense.” A vicious chomp in the background made the sinister grin on the mysterious man grow brighter as the silent sounds of bones cracking in the warm light of his hearth. “And do make sure this one is not as scrawny as the last.”

“Of course, Lord Nightshade.”

He shut off his intercom and listened to the happy growls coming from his pets. Nightshade turned his eyes to the fire which made them light up as brightly as the glowing cinders crashing out from the flames. He started chortling as he imprinted another large, red X onto a list of names written neatly in dried blood on an old scroll of antique paper.

“Down two Urisks, one lost Oracle, and soon to gain one unstoppable Spectre.” He chuckled, “Not a loss to mourn over indeed---my poor, unsuccessful, Mister Darcy.”