Darkness Calling Ch. 07bymadam_noe©
Selene opened her eyes to a world of swirling grey. She was standing, and something seemed wrong, but she couldn't put her fingers on it. Out of the mists a man appeared, and she felt his presence before she saw him.
He was tall and slender, his dress the flowing robes of a priest. His hands moved furiously with each step, the bony fingers taught, and when his angular face came into view it was just as hard.
His nose and brow looked familiar to her but Selene could not place the features. His eyes were almost pure black, and held her spellbound.
"Selene, my precious," he said in a booming voice, stopping an arms length from her.
"Who are you?" she asked in a whisper. He wore the scent of his magic like a cologne, and she was afraid to taste his power lest she be consumed by it.
"You do not recognize me child?" He folded his arms and smiled, pushing his thin, graying mustache high. She shook her head. "I am your father."
The emotions crashed through her as if a damn broke. Relief, trepidation, anger, fear, and aching loneliness collided together in her heart. He seemed to wait for her to gather her wits and it took her long minutes. Her heart pounded and she feebly clutched her throat as she stared at him. His eyes seemed empty but his smile full.
"Why are you here?" she said at last, her voice cracking. Tears burned her eyes, unshed, Selene began to feel like a lost little girl. "Why now?" she asked when she really meant 'why did you leave me?'
He raised a bony hand as if to cup her cheek but dropped it. "I am here because I have finally found you. Since the second I knew you existed I have never stopped searching. I have never stopped loving you, Selene."
Her heart stuttered at the words she had spent a childhood fantasizing about. The fantasy had always been different; another father, another place, another time. Another Selene.
"Where were you?" she asked, pleading, and the tears began to fall.
He reached for her, and pulled her into his arms. She clutched at him, inhaling his magic, the scent of him, familiarizing it as she fully expected him to disappear again. "Where w-were y-y-you? I've b-been waiting, waiting all my life for you."
"Honey, it's all right, go ahead and cry, you deserve to," he soothed, smoothing his hands over her dark hair. He leaned down and kissed the top of her head the way she'd seen a thousand other fathers do for their daughters, witch and human alike. "I lost you once, I will not lose you again."
She sobbed loudly until she was dry, and he cast a spell to clean them both but remained holding her, sensing she needed it. Laying against his chest, listening to the strong thrum of his heartbeat, it sank in.
"You're Bram Darkwind!" She sprung back, astonished.
He smiled softly and nodded. "And you are Selene Rainn nee Darkwind, though I hope you will officially take my name."
"But you're evil!"
He laughed then and shook his head, his dark hair flying. "Is that what they told you? I am not evil, child."
"But how could you have a child? You're a priest, it's forbidden!"
"In thousands of years of life I was alone. I was a priest for many years when my soul mate, your mother came into my life. How could I resist her? Like you she was beautiful and charming. I made the mistake of following my destiny, how is that a crime? How could it be wrong or evil when we made something as wonderful as you?"
Her heart was being ripped apart. The words he spoke seemed sincere, and they were words she'd been dying her entire life to hear. That she was wanted, that she belonged somewhere.
"It was forbidden," she whispered, trying to imagine her mother.
"Your mother was young, younger than you, a sweet woman, a white witch, of all things." His eyes looked down and he smiled, and the love was there in his eyes. "She had your eyes, they shined like the moon. She was full of life and vitality, she made me feel so young. She taught me so much."
"But you hate white witches."
He looked at her sharply. "Another lie! Do these people not know me at all?"
She gulped, his power had sizzled up, the air heavily perfumed with jojoba. Bram Darkwind had the most awesome power she had ever seen, and it didn't feel like he had released even one-tenth of it.
"I loved your mother. Her name was Rebecca, her mother- your grandmother, was a human. Rebecca was all sweetness and sunshine. When she disappeared they said she'd left me but I knew it was a lie. She would never leave me. They took her, they killed her, and they hid you from me. I will not let you go, you belong with me now Selene."
Her head spun, images revolving, and one came to the forefront. "Soren!"
A shadow crossed his face. "Your...man is fine. He tried to stop me and I could not allow it. I would have killed him for his insolence, but I see, to my displeasure, you are married. Your life is linked with his, if he dies, you may well too. Soren Nightraven will be allowed to live a very long life. Give him up, and stay with me."
She shook her head. "No."
His sharp features hardened. "I have seen your pathetic, empty life. Come with me and you will be treated as you deserved, with the reverence and respect I have cultivate over millennia. Come with me and I will teach you true power, the true path, and you will have everything I desire."
"What I want is to be free."
His fists clenched. "I can show you the only path to real freedom, only I can give you the power buried within you." He began to advance on her and Selene stepped back, parting the mist as she went.
"I want to leave now."
Bram crept closer. "Everything you want, all you desire. You may even keep Nightraven, as a pet, if you so desire. Simply come home, where you belong, where you are meant to be."
Fear stole over her and Selene grabbed her throat again. A metal lump met her palm and she recognized the protection amulet. Home, she thought, and felt the herbs combine with her magic.
She found herself in her living room facing Soren and the Whiteblooms.
"What the hel-"
"Selene!" Soren grabbed her and pulled her into his arms in a crushing bear hug.
"Armfh ewe awww whiit?" she asked against his chest.
"What?" Sigrid asked, and came forward to pry them apart. "What did you say?"
Selene scanned Soren. He looked tired but all right. "Are you all right? What happened? I heard you yell in pain!"
"I'm fine, surprisingly. Selene, Bram Darkwind took you. He took you and I thought- I thought-"
Sigrid put her hand on Soren's shoulder comfortably. "Selene, how did you escape?"
"He didn't force me to stay," Selene whispered, still dizzy and confused. At three blank looks she cleared her throat and held up the amulet. "A protection amulet. I touched it and thought 'home'."
More confused looks but Jonathon stepped between Sigrid and Soren. "You're in your full power and Darkwind's had you for almost a full day." She turned to Soren. "She needs food, not an inquisition."
I don't feel safe here anymore, Selene said in her mind to Soren. "Let's go into town, to a restaurant."
Sigrid and Jonathon looked uncomfortable but nodded. Witches didn't have many, and there were none by the university except for the dining hall Selene worked at. This meant they'd have to go into the human town and check their magic.
Though as a level ten Jonathon could fly or transport them all via magic, he had a car, and offered to drive. The human town was built around a human university, still in session, and the streets were alive.
Sitting in the back Selene was comforted by Soren's touch, but there was something about the human world that would always call to her. Here she felt safe, she felt familiar.
The ended up at a little Mexican restaurant called Eduardo's where every booth was in its own alcove, sounds did not travel, and the food was excellent.
She felt quiet, confused, and tried to keep her mind blank for fear Soren would read it. Bram had sounded...out of touch was the best way to describe it, but she believed his words. He hadn't seemed truly evil, just...misguided.
"The amulet, how exactly does it work?" Jonathon asked.
Selene looked down at it and cleared her throat. "Herbs, a special mix. It's an old art form, one our people abandoned long ago. Humans have kept it alive, people now called Wiccans. They are peaceful, they live in harmony with nature, and they understand power in a way we do not. They believe that whatever spell you cast, it is returned to you times three. This encourages that only good works are done."
The elder Whitebloom nodded as if he understood but it was clear he did not. She knew he was from a powerful family, the last in a long line of men and women who'd sat on the Council of Tens. Power was like air to him, never ending, renewable. The witches would be shocked if they ever found out neither were truly renewable, neither were eternal. Witches tolerated humans, but they knew little about them, or the world they shared.
"Look, Selene, it's become clear you need protection from Darkwind. I want you to come to the city with me."
She looked at Soren and shook her head. "I can't hide. He's my father, we share the same blood. There's nowhere I will go where he won't find me, but he won't force me to come with him. It's my choice, he made that clear."
The others looked at her as if she was insane, as the waiter left their drinks and appetizer. Selene bit her lip as she realized what power she was surrounded by. Two members of the COT and one of the most predominant professors of magic in the world. She was a grad student who waited tables and studied plants for a living.
Selene, Soren thought in her mind, you're surrounded by people who care deeply what happens to you. How we cast spells and earn our living matters little.
Shows what you know, she thought, and couldn't stop the memory.
The invitation to study as a graduate had come just two days before the start of the semester. She'd been dropped off by the McPhersons with an old marine's sea bag full of clothes and journals, a roll of cash that was her life savings, and a large box crammed with her herbs.
Rhiannon had walked by and the first thought Selene had was that she was the most beautiful woman she'd ever seen. Angelic blonde hair, green cat eyes, a sunny smile, the girl was laughing with her friends. Like so many Selene had made the mistake of thinking she was a white witch and walked up to the group.
"Hi, I'm Selene Rainn. Can you tell me where the archaic studies building is? I'm looking for professor Whitebloom."
Rhiannon had looked her up and down, from Selene's threadbare sneakers to her old, worn UIC sweatshirt. Curling her lip in disgust the witch had raised her hand. "Level ones do not talk to me." With a small burst of power she sent Selen's plants flying, dirt blowing across her, the plants dying before they touched the ground.
Crying out Selene had dropped to her knees to gather them up and heal them, the flowers were hybrids she was working on, the herbs rare and hard to find. One of the group, Hugh Selene knew now, had grabbed her sea bag and tossed it to Rhiannon.
"Give that back!" Selene called as they laughed.
Rhiannon had sneered as she pried it open and pulled out an old dirty pair of panties. "Look! The little half-breed has granny panties!"
Micheal, her then-boyfriend, had grabbed them and stood up on a bench to shout "let's fly them up the flagpole!"
Everyone in the quad had laughed and Selene had sat there, wishing she could die.
"Fuck off!" Someone said and Selene turned to see a thin young man grab her panties and the bag, stuffing them in. "Are you all right?" he asked, holding a hand down to her.
Selene nodded and took it, giving up on her plants as they were trampled by other students.
"Go away, you fairy," Rhiannon sneered.
"Bite me, bitch," Marcus had said back and used his power to strip her glamour spell. Rhiannon squeaked and redid it, but not before everyone had seen her mousy brown hair, small eyes, and acne-ridden face for what it was.
Selene pulled out of the memory and Soren covered her hand with his. There are always monsters in this life, Selene, but if we let them keep us from living our lives how could we accomplish anything?
"Like you would understand, she said out loud, startling the Whiteblooms.
"Trouble?" Jonathon asked.
Soren shook his head and suddenly Selene was in his mind, in one of his memories. She was standing outside a crowd of boys in matching uniforms. They were adolescents, bent over in a huddle screaming in a harsh language.
She couldn't understand and then their words became English.
"Rip his head off!"
"Fairy white witch!" another called.
The crowd parted and Selene saw two boys in the center doing their very best to kill one another. One was big and dark, and now he had the other boy pinned. There was blood everywhere, the most vicious thing she'd seen, and the brunette pummeled the skinny blonde boy until he stopped moving.
"That will teach you to talk to dark witches." The brunette spit on him then and gifted him with a horrific kick to the ribs. The crowd dispersed and a voice behind her cried out "Soren! Soren!"
Selene came back to herself gasping.
"What's going on?" Sigrid demanded.
"Nothing." Selene shook her head. She ached for Soren and covered his hand with her free one The spell was simple and natural and eased the pain he felt at the memory. She took it into herself and buried it deep, pleased when she felt his mind lighten.
"Look, we hate to interrupt the mental snuggling or whatever, but we need to figure out how to protect Selene from Darkwind," Jonathon said.
"I don't need protection, I already told you."
Again the look as if she was insane. They began to talk about her as if she wasn't even there and Selene gave up, attacking the nachos with a sigh. Something about her father had seemed...she couldn't put her finger on it but she wanted to talk to him, to find out more. Between what she had seen and what her friends had said something wasn't adding up.
After a tasteless meal it had been decided that Selene was best served training with Jonathon and Sigrid, but she would stay with Soren. No one asked her input, no one thought to tell her directly.
Selene let her temper build, planning to blast Soren when they were alone. When they left he stopped her short though, sensing her intent. "I only want to protect you," he said, gripping her arm.
She turned away but her next step made her bang her shin into a bed. A big bed. His bed. In his bedroom.
The taste of his magic was already gone. "Kidnapping?" She whirled back. "We're adding kidnapping to the list of the bad things you've done?"
He peeled off his suit jacket and slung it on a low ladder back chair. "Selene you are my wife, this is my home. This is where you belong."
"No. Do you remember my home? With my White Sox posters and my bobble heads and my herb garden? That's where I belong! Take me back!"
"You're a level ten and if you train well with Sigrid you'll learn how to soon enough."
She went to grab her protection amulet only to see it appear in his hands. "Canny, but you can see the advantage of magic over trinkets."
"Don't insult what you know nothing about!"
"I know we abandoned herbs for a good reason, Selene. They're vulnerable, require extensive knowledge, and can be quite cumbersome."
She saw red. "You're just as bad as what they say about my- about Darkwind. You think white witches are inferior, you're heavy handed, and you kidnapped me!"
She'd never seen him lose his temper but it roiled now. His eyes flashed like a raging ocean and an unseen wind blew his tie back, his hair loose. "You dare compare me to that- that animal?"
"He's my father!" She yelled back. "And he didn't tell me I had to stay, he only tried to convince me I should."
She turned and stalked towards the door only to find it was closed and locked solidly by magic. She jerked but the handle wouldn't budge.
"Let me go, Soren. Now."
"You are my wife, you belong to me."
Spitting mad she looked about for anything and grabbed a small bust of Blackfoot. She hurled it squarely at his head but magic floated it gently over to the pedestal she'd plucked it from, where it landed with a heavy thump.
"Don't," he ground out, stalking closer. "Ever. EVER! Do that again!"
He wanted to deal in magic? Fine! She called the feeling back from yesterday and powered up. Before she could blast him he sucked the energy into himself.
She gasped. "What the hell?"
He came closer stopping so close if she breathed deeply their chests would touch. "I've been dueling with magic and my fists longer than you've been alive, Selene. Do not even think you can challenge me."
Her emotions spun out of control and she went to slap him. Soren caught her wrist easily and squeezed. "You will stay here with me. You will learn the art of your magic from the Whiteblooms. And you will behave. Is that understood?"
Behind his words was the power of a man used to control and command, a man she knew no one had stood up to in a long time.
"You are such a jerk!" she growled.
Instead of a retort he dropped her arm and stepped back laughing. She felt her cheeks burn and her anger inched up even more. "Quit it. Quit it!"
"Jerk?" He laughed again. "No one's called me anything so innocent since I was...hell I think never."
She tried to power up again but somehow he blocked it. Defeated, she stalked over to the bed and flopped down. "Have fun sleeping on the chair, husband dear."
The laughter stopped.
"Selene, either you are, or aren't my wife. Which is it?"
"How fast can I get an annulment?" she asked, leaning up on his elbows. His mind shuttered as did his face but the emotions Selene caught stole her breath.
He held a hand up. "Save it. Don't tell me you care about me, care how I feel, when I can read your mind and know damn well you really mean to back out of this. You know as well as I do you can never love another the way you can your soul mate. You can never have children, a real family without your soul mate. Annulled or not we'll both be shunned by other witches. You know all this and don't care."
Love? He spoke of love? Her heart pounded and she felt all of two inches tall. "Soren it's not you, it's me." She frowned at his bark of laughter at that phrase. "This is not the life I'm meant to have."
He sat at the foot and pulled his necktie off. "Oh? And what is?"
She wrung her hand as he began to unbutton his shirt, knowing if she caught sight of his chest she was lost. "I'm going to finish school, apply as a councilor on archaic magic with the COM. I'll write books, lecture, advise, live out this busy life alone."
He began to untie his shoes. "You're aware that if you were to attain such a position, you'd be working under me. Directly under me," he purred.
The shoes and socks were dumped at the foot of the bed and when he grasped the shirt she squeezed her eyes closed. "It doesn't matter. Soren, there have been cases where there has been...another. Perhaps I'm not meant for you."
She squeaked when she felt his magic and the cool night air on her skin. Opening her eyes to look down Selene realized she was naked just as he produced a leather strap by magic.
"What are you doing?"
He lunged and caught her off guard. She was breathless at the feeling of his hot body on top of hers and she forgot to struggle. Until she felt him tie her left wrist with the strap.
"Hey! What's the heck?"
He pulled back, grinning. "The strap, like the bunny, is purely my magic, Selene. The bond can only be removed when I call it back. In other words, you're staying tonight."
She squeaked, jerking at it futilely. "Damn it!"