Part 11: The Stuff Of Legends
I found, to my delight, that I was able to block out Frank's inner voice, shutting out his protests as to what I intended to do, and it made the elevator ride not seem so long. Magikal energy swirled about the confines of the elevator, building for my imminent use, and I absorbed as much of it as my physical form would contain, planning to unleash it in one powerful burst that would surely burn away the guise of the Dark One. I would, of course, need to unleash a small bit of it on the mortal David Cutter, to bind him and prevent him from warning his Master of my presence, but it would be of little consequence.
I had gathered in a lot of energy.
The doors finally parted, and I rushed out of the elevator, drawing myself to a still as I realized that the entire room was cast nearly in shadow. Only a few ceiling lights were on, casting small pools of luminance here and there, but leaving far too many areas of darkness for my liking. Flickering computer screens lent the darkness a green tint, but did little to dispel it, almost giving the darkness a personality of its own.
At first, I had thought that my shields had not been as strong as I had thought them to be, that the Dark One had set a trap for me. I was about to cast a spell of showing, hoping to reveal any dangers magikally hidden by the darkness, when I detected the faint scratches of pencil on paper. My eyes looked to a dull patch of light, and the dark form seated within it.
David Cutter was seated at his desk, apparently the only person still here, concentrating on a pile of papers spread out before him. The darkness that swam about him seemed to draw in the light, almost as if it were trying to smother it, and I knew that he had been an Underling for a long time.
Faintly, as if echoing from the far end of sprawling canyon, I heard Frank's voice, and it was telling me to look at my watch.
"It's five-thirty," I said to him, lowering the blockade I had erected against his voice. "So what?"
"Every one's left for the evening, ditz," he growled at me.
"I knew that," I responded, feeling like some what of a village idiot. "But not every one has left."
"What? Him?" he asked, apparently able to see the world through my eyes. "Hey, wait a minute. What the hell's wrong with him?"
"The darkness, you mean?"
"Yeah, what is that?" asked Frank.
"He's an Underling, a servant to the Dark Ones, and future host for one of them in this realm."
Cutter paused in his writing, his head jerking up as someone suddenly aware that they were not alone, and he glared at me with hard set eyes. His lip twitched downward in contempt, but it did not stay like that, instead turning into a cruel smile.
"Divine," he hissed. "MacGruder was called to a meeting, but he wants your ass in here at seven sharp. Think you can follow that order?"
"Where's he at?" I asked, my long strides taking me closer to him. "I want to see him now."
"You need to cool your jets, hot shot," he growled, the legs of his chair screeching loudly in the silence as he pushed it back to stand. "You might have an impressive track record, but that doesn't give you the clout to come in and start making demands."
"Don't fuck with Cutter," came Frank's voice. "He's got MacGruder's ear, and he's got a lot of backing from higher ups."
"And now you know why," I countered, now standing before Cutter's desk.
"Why don't you just have your buddy Travis run your ass home, and make sure it's back in here tomorrow morning, okay?"
"I asked where he was," I reiterated, still containing the magik that I had summoned. I had no reservations about using it against the Underling, it was just that I wanted answers first.
"What is your problem, Divine," Cutter nearly shouted, leaning over his desk. He began jamming his finger into my chest, continuing with his yelling. "Get the fuck out of here, now, or I'll have your ass arrested."
I don't like being poked in the chest.
It was only a fraction of the energy that I had gathered, but it was enough to blast Cutter back against the wall and hold him there, his head pressed against the ceiling as his feet dangled. His expression of initial pain turned to one of bewilderment, then anger, as he glared at me, his hiss-like voice demanding to know what was going on.
"Your position as an Underling gives you no right to make demands," I said to him, mockingly.
He glared at me with surprise.
"That's right," I continued, walking around his desk so that I could stand before him. "I know what you are, and I know what your boss is. What I don't know, is where is he? You want to answer that?"
"Go to hell," he growled, struggling vainly against the magik that held him suspended.
"If that's what it takes, then I'll find a way," I countered. "But my quest has to start here, and it starts with MacGruder. Now, for the last time, where is he?"
Cutter just stared at me with contempt.
"He's not going to tell you anything," said Frank. "Look through the appointment book, that thick black leather book on his desk. Cutter took care of all of MacGruder's appointments, it should be written in there."
Turning, I located the book that Frank had told me about, and began flipping through the pages. Cutter began yelling at me, telling me to stay out of his private books, and I silenced him with the twitch of a finger, binding his mouth. I quickly found the entries for today, scanning down them until I came across the listing of appointments for this evening.
"Strategy session with Linder, then dinner at the Belmont," I said aloud, reading the only entries left for today.
"The Belmont?" wondered Frank. "But that's…"
"I know," I interrupted him. "I remember. It's Soffillian's place."
"What's MacGruder doing having dinner at Soffillian's? He knows we've got the place under surveillance, that there'd be questions."
"Maybe he's not worried about being observed," I said, thinking that Cutter may not be the only Underling in the Bureau. "Who ever's on it, they're probably working for him."
"Shit, this isn't good, Michael," stated Frank of the obvious. "You can't go up against the Dark Ones, and the FBI."
"You left out the mob," I corrected him, turning to face Cutter.
The Underling was still struggling against the containment spell, still trying to scream despite the binding on his mouth, and I felt a brief flare of pity for him. I'm sure that at one time he had been a decent man, seduced by the dark powers into making a bargain with them, probably thinking that he could control them. He had a sense to him, a marking that he had already been chosen by a Dark One to become a vessel to this world, and that ment that it was too late to save him.
"What are you going to do with him?" asked Frank.
"There is only one thing that I can do," I replied, raising my hand.
Cutter's protests became so forced that I could almost hear them, sounding like the muffled screams of someone bound and gagged, and I looked him in the eye.
"It's time, David," I said.
It was easily ten times as much power as I had used on the other Underling, Potter, back in the alley way. This action was not a reflex, it was a controlled spell ment to eradicate any and every trace of the being that was David Cutter. A beam of pure white erupted from my hand and engulfed his body, burning it away from existence in this realm, and nearly any other. His body burned away in flashes, until only his skeleton was left, then that too shimmered from being. His soul was set free to make its way to its final destination, and only the fates would know where that was.
I could only offer a small prayer that, before he had been seduced, he had been a good man.
"Oh, my, God," stammered Frank. "What was that?"
"He was an Underling, Frank. There was no redemption for him. We could not allow him to continue."
Silence reigned where once Frank would not be quite.
"Frank?" I called, receiving no response.
I could not recall the first time that I had been witness to a cleansing, but I had the vague notion that I felt somewhat repulsed by it. Frank had a lot to absorb, to accept and deal with, and I thought that it might be some time before I heard from him again.
I turned and walked briskly towards the elevator, thinking that I had roughly two hours to make my way to the Belmont, and to try and find out what the connection was between the Dark One and Soffillian. I had felt no taint of the Dark Ones on Soffillian, an odd realization since he was apparently working with MacGruder, and I wondered if perhaps he was also being used.
There was a soft ding, signaling the return of the elevator, and I paused a few feet short of it, wondering who it was. The doors slid open, the hairs on the back of my neck rising as MacGruder stepped off of the elevator. He was flipping through a thick collection of folders, looking over them, and yelling at the top of his lungs.
"Cutter, where in the hell's that file on…" he trailed off, his eyes focusing on me, and he grunted. "What the hell are you doing here, Divine? Where're those two numb nuts, Travis and Bender? And where in the hell is Cutter?"
"Which Clan do you belong to?" I asked him, replenishing the energy that I had used on Cutter.
"You're on thin ice here, Divine," he said, his eyes narrowing. "I think you better clarify your question."
I could sense the energy that he was also drawing in, his shields going up in preparation, but I also knew that he was uncertain of me. He did not know for certain that I recognized him for what he was, and he certainly had no clue that I was a Lightbarer.
"Which Clan do you belong to, Dark One," I asked again, confirming his suspicion.
"You always were full of surprises, Frank," he said, shaking his head and smiling. "I don't know how you found out, but surely you know that you're a dead man."
"Actually," I said, trying to appear relaxed, "I'm a Lightbarer."
MacGruder's head tipped back as he laughed, a rumbling sound like that of rolling thunder, and he looked at me with mirth. He continued chuckling as his form rippled with energy, shifting from its human guise to that of his true being, and I quickly found myself facing the towering stature of the Dark One that had claimed MacGruder's body as his vessel.
"Lightbarers are legends," he finally managed to say, his baritone voice still occasionally racked with a snicker. "Tales we tell our offspring, to frighten them into submission."
I could accept the ignorance from the Underling in the alley way, as unnerving as it had been, but to be laughed at by a Dark One! Surely their race could not have dismissed our kind so easily, even if five hundred years had passed. But then, they had always been an arrogant race, and I could fully see them obliterating every record of those that had stood against them, ignoring the past that told of their failures.
"Die, mortal," he hissed, taking full advantage of my contemplation of the situation.
If not for the shields that I had had firmly in place, then I would have been killed instantly by the blast of dark energy that he had released. Instead, I was thrown back across the room, slamming heavily into the same wall that I had pinned Cutter against, and I dropped to the floor, my senses swimming.
"I'll be damned," he hissed, laughing at his own joke as he strode towards me on his powerful, cloven legs. "You still live!"
I rose, filled with anger, and he paused, his eyes narrowing as he stared at me. In that moment, I think he realized that he was dealing with something unlike anything he had ever delt with. It would seem that being thought of as simply a legend was going to be a distinct advantage.
I thrust my hand out and unleashed my own blast of energy, the beam of white hitting him squarely in the chest and sending him crashing to the floor. He was propelled backwards, sliding on the smooth linoleum until he smashed into a near by desk, the piece of furniture crumpling when struck with his considerable bulk.
My blast had taken a lot out of him, he had not erected very strong shields in his defense, thinking me no threat, and I did not let up. I charged at him, unleashing one bolt of energy after another from my hands, delivering a barrage of magik against his thick hide.
MacGruder was continually driven back, smashing through numerous desks, finally slamming against the wall next to the elevator. He laid there, motionless except for his labored breathing, his blood-red skin smoking. Gashes and cuts lacerated his hide, made from the many bits of wood and steel from the destroyed desks, and I could tell that he was severely wounded, probably more so than he had ever thought possible.
I would have to work quick if I were going to take advantage of his weakened state, and I began forming a spell of binding, one strong enough to hold a Dark One. Concentrating as I was on the spell, it took a second for me to realize that I had heard a new sound, the chiming of the elevator once again arriving to this floor. I was almost finished with the spell, completing the complex motions with my hands, when I glanced right to see Travis and Bender step from the elevator, both with looks of shock on their faces.
"What the hell are you doing, Frank?" demanded John, looking from me to MacGruder. I uttered a silent curse to see that the Dark One had reestablished the illusion of his human form. "Have you gone crazy?"
Bender ran to the fallen MacGruder, rolling him over and checking him, casting me a look of disbelief. In that same moment, John pulled his gun and aimed it at me, his eyes full of conflicting emotions.
"He's not what you think he is," I said to John, deciding that I would have to reveal the truth to him if I were going to end this.
"Jesus Christ, Frank," clamored Bender. "You almost killed….gah!"
Gary Bender died in the blink of an eye, MacGruder's clawed hand sticking out of his back from where he had slammed it through the agent's chest, the man's heart held in his hand.
MacGruder stood, Gary's body sliding off of his arm with a slurping sound, and he roared at us with a terrifying ferocity. John stumbled backwards, tripping over the remains of a shattered desk to fall to the floor, staring at the Dark One in horror.
"Jeez-us, jeez-us, jeez-us," he kept rambling, raising his gun and emptying its entire clip into the daemon.
The shots that did hit the creature left tiny, black holes that sealed up almost immediately, the creature laughing in contempt.
I did not waste another moment, a man was already dead because I had hesitated, and I was not going to let John meet that same fate. I released the spell that I had created, striking the Dark One with it, and sighing in relief as it bound his arms to his sides, confining him physically. MacGruder bellowed in surprised rage as he toppled over, slamming to the floor with a loud thud that sent a shock wave rolling under our feet.
"What the fuck is that?" yelled John, scrambling to his feet and leaning against one of the few desks left intact. "I mean, it was MacGruder, but then it was that thing! What the hell's going on?"
"John, calm down," I said, sending a small bit of a soothing spell towards him. I waited a moment, for the spell to take affect, then, as he relaxed some, I stepped over to inspect the bindings on the Dark One.
MacGruder glared at me, snarling curses and threats as I checked over the strength of the spell. It was a fully formed binding, free of flaws, and I let myself relax, assured that he would not be able to break free of it.
"Frank, what is that thing?" asked John, stepping up beside me.
I turned to look at him, at this man that was Frank's friend, that had faced a Dark One and still had the nerve to try and kill it, and I knew that I had to tell him every thing. He deserved that much, and then he could make his own decision as to what he wanted to do.
"Sit down, John," I said, motioning towards a chair. "I have a lot to tell you."
"What about…that thing?" he asked, pointing towards the Dark One with his gun.
"He'll be safely bound until sunrise," I explained.
"What happens at sunrise?"
"The spell will dissipate, but that's of no consequence."
"What the hell do you mean, it doesn't matter? You just said that thing's going to be free come sunrise."
"Don't worry," I assured him, wondering if I should increase the strength of the soothing spell. "It'll be dead long before sunrise."
Both John and MacGruder glared at me.
"Come on, set down," I said again, taking his arm and guiding him to the chair. "You should be setting down when I do this."
"Do what?" he asked, taking a seat in a brown, weathered-looking wooden chair.
I placed a hand on his forehead, and began whispering words of power, opening the knowledge that I held to be transferred to him. It would not be a pleasant experience, but neither was it a painful one, and in the end, he would know the truth about everything.
"Reveal," I commanded, completing the spell.
John's eyes rolled up in his head, showing only white, and his body shook as his mind absorbed what I wanted him to know.
It had been a long time since I had trusted the secrets of my kind to a human, to take one of them as an ally. It was a dangerous thing, to entrust a mortal with this knowledge, to allow them to face the threat directly, but I sensed that, this time, it was the right thing to do.
Besides, I figured I could use all of the help that I could get.
To Be Continued…