Darkness Calling Ch. 19bymadam_noe©
Thank you to my loyal readers who have stuck by me in this story. I know there was a 2 year break where I really didn't want to continue writing this, but all your feedback helped me to do it.
This final installment does end the immediate story and includes a epilogue 5 years in the future. The 5 years in between may someday have their own telling. If you'd like to hear about them, let me know in the comments.
As always your feedback and comments are welcome!
In the cool stone castle under the pulsing reddish sky, the outlaw witches huddled. There was long discussion, days of it. The conjured food with ease, but sleep evaded them as they kept watch over the leader. Bram was weak, but recovering, shaken by his first brush with mortality in eons. Sigrid too, had recovered, and it had fallen to Selene as the highest ranking witch at full power to help the other converts.
As they talked she brought them in twos aside, and one by one they became immortal. It was like granting life, and this was Selene's calling she knew. She was no fighter but she was a healer and always would be, and the looks on their faces brought joy to her heart.
Bram was recovering slowly, but until the witch who cast the deadly spell on him was dead he would never be whole. His converts all stood immortal, balanced between light and dark, bickering amongst themselves. After the drama of life and death within their ranks, no one wanted to discuss murder.
Selene patiently listened to all and guided the discussion, and for once Soren did not try to help. He leaned against a pillar watching the group, keeping his own counsel. Sigrid looked tired, but her eyes drifted to his every no and again. For the topic of discussion was the murder of their father.
Seeing as two of their children were present no one spoke it aloud, even though it was the prevailing thought, until Sigrid posited it in frustration.
"Perhaps we should just kill them both."
Selene was stricken. Soren and Selene's father's life fotr hers. It was too much. She opened her mouth to speak but no words came out. Comfort flooded into her mind from Soren, eternal patience, and it steadied her.
"Killing for life is like..."
"Fucking for virginity," Hallie, a young convert said.
"But we fight for peace!" Ken, her friend chimed in, and the group exploded into argument once more.
That had set it off until Soren slipped away, slowly closing the ink between him and Selene as she was drawn in more and more into controlling tempers.
By his reckoning this was his problem to deal with, no one else's. Selene was the most wonderful woman he had ever met, and she was strong, stronger than she knew, but young, and life had been harsh. She was fragile and he would not risk hurting her further.
Sigrid was made of sterner stuff but even this was something he could not ask of her. Jonathon sat on a couch, holding her when Soren slipped out, and the two men shared a nod.
He returned through the hallway, through what he knew humans might call the Gough. There was temptation to peek into the doors, to see other realities, but he kept himself headed to his own with grim determination, his dress shoes echoing on the dry stone as he walked alone, surrounded by life, on a mission of death.
It was night when he returned, snow was falling heavily. The world was still as he stepped out into the night. It was quiet, the witches resting and the human world beyond just as calm. Tonight would close a dark chapter, but beyond that lay a darker time for them all. The power of the world was in his hand and all he wanted was to return to Selene, to hold her in his arms and forget this. His people did not deserve that, and so he wasted no more time and used his magic to take him to the place that had never felt like home.
It felt empty, that large stone mansion, there was an unnatural stillness pervading the stones and marble, every inch of it as cold as his parents. Despite the late hour and the eerie feeling, from the front parlor came the flickering light of a fire, and he was drawn to it.
He found them there by the fire, his father standing by the mantle, one hand hidden, the other shaking slightly as he held a glass of amber liquor. His mother was in a chair, back to him, but from the position of her feet and arms he knew she was dead. His heart stuttered and cried out, but Soren shuttered his expression.
"The shame will end your career, you know."
"Hello to you too, father."
"I suppose you have a lot of questions."
Soren stood in the doorway, arms at his side, ready to throw his magic. "I really don't. You always were Blackfoot's stooge. You did what any politician, human or witch, would do. With no enemy to unite the people against, you made one. You just choose poorly, and you damned us al to mediocrity and gave us the gift of hate."
His father nodded and set the glass down, but kept facing the interior wall, letting Soren view only his profile. "I suppose that's true. So you've gone over."
Soren started forward slowly. "I went back. This is what we're meant to be. Balanced, immortal. We are witches, damn it! Two paths, light and dark have done nothing but weaken us, leave us with strife. We've become things humans laugh at, bedtime stories that once frightened children and now make them laugh. You had the chance to right that wrong, and you chose to make it worse, to drive the wedge deeper." He ended his walk by his mother's chair.
His heart stalled anew when he saw no magic had killed her...a very human gun had, the bullets embedded in her chest and head. The blood wept over her skin like her soul's dark tears, drying now. Rage suffused him.
"She healed you, brought you back from the brink of death, and you killed her!?!"
"Shame, son. She wouldn't have survived the shame. I gave her a gift by freeing her from it.
"You're immortal now, and you'll know how it stings. You'll have eternity to live with it, to be haunted by our memories." His father turned, bringing up the gun.
Soren was too shocked to move defensively, but the weapon rose higher, his father pointing it at his own head. He grinned at Soren, his hand steady now. "Goodbye son." He pulled the trigger.
"Where's Soren?" Selene asked suddenly. He was no longer in the room and as everyone looked around them she tried the mindlink to find he'd forced it closed.
Oh, no you don't, she thought, and used her superior power to open it.
She felt his cry of anguish, a wound in his soul rip open. Without thinking she was there, moving from one reality to another with barely a thought, only determination.
She found him crouched over a body on the floor. "Soren?"
"No, not here, you don't need to see this." He rose to hug her, turning her away. She realized they were in his parent's house, then in a split second there were in his bedroom.
Soren collapsed to the floor bringing her with him. She held him as he cried, hanging on for dear life. Quietly Selene smoothed his hair and let their souls blend, lending him her strength.
They stayed like that for a long time until he was exhausted, and then she used her magic to clean him and move him to the bed. Selene held him to her until he slept. From his dreams she sensed what had happened, and she swallowed her pain, offering him light and beauty for his dreams. Soren cuddled into her and she kissed his temple.
It was over. Just a short time ago she'd been a level one witch, a graduate student, an orphan of no consequence, and her biggest worry was securing a job after graduation. Now she had a husband, a father, more power than she had ever dreamed, the world stood on the brink of change...and people were dead. She had no doubt in the coming days more would die. Everything in the world rested on the two men she loved, she realized suddenly.
She looked at Soren's handsome face, relaxed in sleep, and even now when he was broken with grief, his iron core was visible. She thought of her father, a man of strong, deep emotions and infinite patience. If anyone could right the wrongs of the world, it was them.
Selene kissed his forehead and smoothed his golden hair back. She was loved by these men, and she had a chance to lend a tempering hand to help reshape their world.
She was the luckiest witch alive.
"And that is why we must know the nature of plants, how they help us and hurt us." Selene smiled as applause rang out.
Looking over the eager faces of the young witches, her heart winced slightly with the weight of memory. Once she had worked in this very room, wearing one of the uniforms and fetching rolls and coffee for them all, gazing at the guest speakers with reverence.
She looked around her at the head table, where it had all begun. Now her own staff was with her, and her second-oldest friend Professor Sigrid Whitebloom sat next to her with a smile.
She spared a glance for the high-bidders table, still officially reserved for the Nightstars. With their daughter dead they had been in exile since before the end of the war, and it sat half-filled by the children of the next generation of money, distant cousins and such. She half-expected to see Rhiannon there in a revealing top and that smirk that had always disturbed her. That was a ghost often not far from her thoughts.
Sitting back down as the applause slowed, Selene sighed.
"You're welcome to stay with me and Jonathon, you know."
She smiled at Sigrid. "I'd love to, but I want to get back. Soren's expecting my report soon and then I still have to read the files from the Amazon team."
"Shame he didn't let you go."
Selene smiled. "In the past five years I've gone on plenty of trips. It was the traveling back and forth every night that was sapping us both."
Sigrid laughed. "It is re-election time, I guess he'll want you by his side."
"The election's not for another year but he's already planning. Makes me glad I had to get hired, not elected."
They chatted a bit longer, and then Selene excused herself, transporting back to the office first. The COM headquarters had been destroyed in the first days after it all happened, when their world had fallen into war, but a new building had taken its place.
Many high-level witches had preferred the old ways, but more yet feared Bram Darkwind and had either half-heartedly taken to his cause or become the guerillas of the other side. It had taken chaos, a few battles, and a few instances of their small coven surviving certain death to show the rest of the witch nation the light and end the schism. Two years they had fought small battles, taken on more and more converts, and only when the immortal had outnumbered the rest did the truce come and peace rein.
Rebuilding, converting, educating after the war had taken a total of two years. Four years total of no school, no services, no stability in the witch world. It was back now, much in the old system, with a few changes, and after a stuttering first year all signs pointed to a calm future.
The passage to immortality was granted to witches upon graduation from college, guaranteeing peace, education, and no deadly duels in the young. Soren had won the election for head of the COM by a landslide, the most visible link between the old world and the new. He had done a wonderful job restoring the world they knew to what it had been and what it could be.
Selene had returned to finish her studies as everyone returned to work. True to his promises of being a fair, unbiased leader, Soren had taken no part in her hiring. It was only with Sigrid's recommendation she had been appointed the director of archaic studies, and only through hard work that she had changed that from an empty title to a meaningful cabinet position.
She went now to her office in the lighter building, shining and new, all the darkness and ugly memories washed away in the scorching fire of battle and the burning light joy of rebuilding.
"How did it go?"
"Great!" She bussed Marcus' cheek as she hung up her scarf and stretched. "A little strange, it was my first time back since graduating, and my first time back in the hall since the night I met Soren."
"At least it must have been nice not having to worry about remembering orders." Her oldest friend and current chief-of-staff smiled and set down a stack of papers on her desk, bundled up tight. "I knew you'd be busy so I went ahead and highlighted all the important notes in the Amazon reports. Should cut your work down to just four hours, and there's a handful of several promising discoveries."
"Luckily I can just read this over dinner to the husband."
"Must be handy, being married to the boss."
"It has its perks."
Marcus laughed. "Well, I'm off to dinner with Tim. Need anything before I go?"
"No, go have your fun little sexy time. I'll make my informal report tonight, my formal tomorrow, so I need you here by ten, okay?"
"You got it." He grinned and swept out the door with flourish.
Her mindlink tickled. So the report is ready?
Selene smiled. Heard that, did you?
Mmm-hmm, came the reply. I'm still in my office, why don't you head up?
She grabbed the papers and was there in an instant. Soren had opted to live away from the COM HQ unlike his predecessors, which meant his office was huge. There was a small apartment built in with a bed, as if a witch who could teleport as easily as he breathed would ever need to spend the night away from his own bed.
That's where she found him, reclined, reading reports. There was a tray of hot food still covered by silver domes next to the bed. His suit jacket was slung over one of the two reading chairs, his tie on the corner post of the foot of the bed. His shirt was unbuttoned showing tanned skin and his hair had fallen into his face while he'd been concentrating. He'd grown it slightly long, still kept it slicked back during business hours though, and his mustache had long ago been shaved off. Though he was older he looked younger, softer, and she liked it as much as the voters.
"Interesting place for a meeting."
"You have that report? The finance committee wants to know about all the extra expenditures." He set his papers down and gave her an impish look she knew had nothing to do with musty old ledgers.
"I'm a little behind." She set her stack down on the little table between the reading chairs, and peeled off her suit jacket to place it on the chair opposite the one his covered.
"That's not a good sign."
She smiled and kicked off her shoes to land with his. "I've been a bad girl." She knew this game, one they played every so often, and she liked her role in it.
"Well, bad girls do need to learn their lessons. Come over here." He pointed to the soft blue carpet by the bed and she glided over, doing as he bade. By the time she knelt he used his magic to strip her naked.
"So beautiful," he cupped her cheek and smiled reverently, but through the mindlink she saw what he was really thinking.
Feeling naughty, she used her magic to strip him naked.
"Hey!" Instantly her hands were bound and a blindfold covered her eyes.
Shivering with anticipation she parted her lips expecting him to fill her, but instead she felt something salty and light on her lips.
What? She asked in her mind.
You are hungry, and I feel like teasing you.
He laughed aloud. She tasted it and it was a shocking combination, bacon and something fruity, a pomegranate. She tried for a bite but he jerked it back and Selene lurched, following it.
He shifted her and she felt him kneel beside her. The next time the sweet salty treat approached her, it was between his lips. She took it, biting, nipping at his lips and his arm came around her, pressing her soft curves into his hard body.
She moaned, trying to eat and focus on her grumbling stomach even as heat suffused her.
"A most interesting way to eat dinner," she murmured when she was done.
He didn't reply but to press another treat, teasing her with it. This was sweet and spicy ham rolled around a hearty strip of cheese, delicious food she had never considered erotic.
"I'm ready for dessert," he husked in her ear as he let her take the food completely.
His free hand moved and she gasped when something warm and slightly liquid drizzled onto her breast. The scent of chocolate reach her and she moaned.
He backed up and the chocolate trail covered her breasts and stomach. Once she swallowed he guided her to her back on the carpet and quickly his hot mouth covered a peak.
He feasted on her, his actions not matching the fantasy she'd glimpsed, but Selene could not complain. He suckled her skin clean, nipping and licking as he went, and her nipples were aching. She cried out as he licked a trail to the other, his hard cock teasing her wet pussy.
The desire for him was maddening. "Now, Soren, fuck me now!"
He laughed mockingly but she heard a groan in there, felt his own feverish desire and the iron strength that held it in check.
She wiggled until magic held her still and he treated her other nipple to the same slow torture. She was wet, aching, creaming, and he gave her no quarter.
Only when he'd made her beg anew did his mouth leave to follow the cooling sweet trail down. He licked it clean, kissing the swell of her stomach reverently.
Her heart warmed but her breath hitched as he scooted down and then she felt his hot mouth close on her center. Nearly screaming from it her cry died into a gasp as his tongue began to move, flicking the nubbin as he suckled.
Quickly she built up, the pleasure faster than she had ever known, and then she was screaming with her release.
Even as the tremors wracked her body and she vibrated with pleasure she felt Soren's control snap. The magic as well as the ties on her hands were gone and she clasped his shoulders as he slammed in, carefully keeping his weight aloft.
He filled her deeply even as her womb still flickered with the orgasm, and immediately he began moving. A magical mouth came between them, suckling her sensitive clit as he slammed into her, his body as tight as hers. Their mouths fused, tongues mingling as their bodies thrust, working together. They moved, scooting over the carpet until he had to brace a hand on the bed. Suddenly her blindfold disappeared and his shining sea-green eyes met hers.
The climax swept over them both like a forest fire, burning away everything as they cried out into one another's mouth, bodies straining and fighting against one another even as pleasure worked in concert.
After long moments, they collected themselves, laying now in their own bed, the food, their clothes, the papers with them. Magic had cleaned them but still they panted slightly, the pleasure still strong.
Laughing slightly with sensation Soren rolled aside and drew her into his arms. "Was that you?"
She laughed. "May-be."
"I would never magic paperwork home."
All Selene could do was laugh once more. "Of course you would, you have, and you will again. It's all part of your charm; you're anal retentive."
He nipped at her ear. "And you are impulsive and obsessive with your little plants."
"You're a dreamer."
She kissed him then and relaxed into his firm body. "The first thing I ever knew about you was that you were a lonely soul, like me. And an autocrat with kinky thoughts."
Settling her head beneath his chin, Soren smiled. "It's amazing to think of just how much we've been through together. I don't think I could have survived the war without you, nor the time before or after."
"I can barely remember a time without you," she said dreamily.
His arms tightened. "You know, if we hadn't met when we did, the world as we know it would not exist. Likely it would all be different. You might have found your father and joined his cause, but without you I never would have."