TimeLine: January 31, 2009
Ramiel stood in the doorway of Sirena’s room watching her sleep, a myriad of thoughts running through his mind.
Earlier that evening he had been called to a meeting, What they said made sense, he had known it was coming. He had known for some time that the darkness was growing inside. The problem was that he did not agree with what they had conspired to do. Damn Uratha and their emotions. Shit!
He watched Serena for a few moments and then settled on a thought. That might work, or it could make things worse. He moved down the hall to his room and looked in on Lyla. It was the longest he had seen her sleep in a long time. No doubt she would be awake soon, he had an hour or two at best. For certain, she looked like she needed it. She looked stretched thin and pale as she lay there naked on top of the covers.
Ramiel jumped slightly as his pants began to vibrate. Every time. He thought. Ramiel looked at the caller ID and went outside.
“Hey,” said the voice on the phone. “Where you at, whitey?”
“At the house, what shadow are you hiding behind?” Ramiel asked as he scanned the tree line.
“I’m at the Brew, looking at some fine werewolf ass. You want I should come up there?”
“He’s not your type. “Ramiel said with a smile. He could picture Ironclaw’s reaction if Roxas hit on him. “I’ve had my share of wolves tonight, meet me at the grove near the house.”
The phone snapped shut and Ramiel let out a sigh as he headed up the hill. It was damned cold and very late at night now, of course. And the snow made the going difficult. Eventually, however, Ramiel was joined by his ally.
Roxas was tall, wore a black long coat and had wild, red hair he wore in spikes, and a dark complexion. He rubbed his gloved hands together. “Damn it’s cold out here. You pick the oddest places for a rendezvous.”
He shivered again and then asked, “So what’s up?”
Ramiel stood there in his tank and jeans. “I need answers. Will you help me?”
“Oh I don’t know,” said Roxas. He stared at Ramiel in his summery getup. Damn mages and their control of heat, he thought with humor. “That’s kind of vague. What if I don’t have the answers you’re looking for?”
“I know you don’t have the answers this time my friend. But I am hoping that you can find the one who does.” Ramiel looked at the stars shining brightly in the sky. “Some days it is no surprise that we fell.”
He removed the zippo from it’s place on his belt and lit it. His hand waved through the flame as he spoke in broken atlantean. He replaced the zippo as he held the living flame in his hand. The other hand passed through the flame and Ramiel began to move them both about in the air. As Roxas watched he could see a portrait emerge from the flames floating in mid air.
The woman in the picture was beyond beautiful, she was nearly angelic in her appearance, but her expression was a little forlorn.
Looking at it Roxas had a pretty good idea what ramiel would have looked like if he were a girl.
“I need you to find her.” Ramiel said as he rubbed his hands together extinguishing the flame.
“Your mother?” he asked. “You have a message for her or something?”
Ramiel’s eyes locked onto Roxas. “How do you know who this is?”
“Oh! Uh… well, who was that? I mean, lucky guess?” Roxas looked away and tried to put on a totally innocent face.
Ramiel moved at top speed and grappled Roxas while he wasn’t looking. He wrapped his arm around his neck, bending him over, so his head was tucked under Ramiels’ left armpit. Ramiel balled his right hand into a fist and raised it over Roxas’ head.
“Tell me how you know who that was or I start the noogies.” Ramiel couldn’t keep the smile off his face.
“You look just like her,” said Roxas. He jammed his thumb right in Ramiel’s ass, making the mage jump. He slipped out of Ramiel’s grasp. “Anyway, what do you want with the ol’ witch?”
“Hey! I’m the pitcher your the catcher!” Ramiel had to pull his jeans out of his crack before he could continue. “I told you I need answers and she is the one who has them.” He thought for a moment. “Well one of four ho would have the answers I need.” He repeated the same process as earlier, this time drawing Lyla’s mother. “She would have the answers too, the other two I have no idea what they look like.”
“Well, your mother is busy,” Roxas said. “I could maybe send a message. Isn’t that one there, Lyla? I’m pretty sure I know where she is.”
“You still haven’t answered my question about how you know who Melisande is.” Ramiel stated as he let the image go. “That wasn’t Lyla. It is her mother Lilly. All I have ever seen of her is the old photos mo…Melisande used to show us. So add a few years to the image, but she probably looks similar, Lyla said she is Uratha too.”
“Yep. Sure I know them. The witch and the bitch.” He grinned brightly. “Never say that to their faces. They get really cranky. They work with us sometimes in the case of one, and most of the time in the case of the other. But like I said, busy-busy. We’ve got lots of things in motion right now and Melisende would be rather put out if I bother her. Not that I have any idea how to even get to her. A message might be possible. Or I could just go talk to Lilly. She’s over there.” Roxas gestured vaguely past Mount Washington.
Ramiel removed a small ball from his pocket and began to knead it with one hand. It squished with each flexing of his fingers. “They work for the Shadow men!” Damn it. Have they been playing us all along?
“I need answers Roxas, right now I don’t care which one I have to talk to. You can even take me to her if you like, so long as I get back in a couple hours before Lyla wakes up.”
“No, no that’s not a good idea. I’ll tell her and she’ll come here or she won’t. Geez, you don’t give me much time to work with. It’s a long walk, you know.” Roxas started trudging toward Mount Washington.
“Hey wait!” Ramiel cut Roxas off. “I can help, just give me a minute ok.” Taking Roxas by the hand he led him back to his house.
“Here, have a beer.” Ramiel handed a cold Amber Bach to his friend and ran upstairs. Left a quick note for Lyla letting her know he would be back by the afternoon. With that he came downstairs pulling on his long coat.
“Okay, let’s go. If you can’t step through the nether, I can at least cut the time in half. Ready when you are.” He said with a smile.
He looked at the beer in his hand and then back at Ramiel. “Ah, what are you doing?”
“You’re quick today. I’m going to take you to the mountain.” Ramiel could see the objection coming but he Roxas off before he could say it. “I won’t go to where she is, I will wait and if she chooses to meet with me at least it is not that far out of her way.”
Ramiel took a beer for himself, cracked it open and took a drink. “So are you ready?”
“Wow,” said Roxas surprised. “Thanks for the beer, but that would be… really inconvenient for you. Are you sure you want to do it this way?”
“You didn’t seem to have any other way, since you started walking toward the mountain.” Ramiel said as he shoved some food into a bag.
He shook his head. “I was walking toward the nearest Locus,” said Roxas. “Which happens to be the spring partway up the mountain. But if you’d like to go into Shadow with me, by all means.” He grinned. He popped open the beer and drank deeply.
Ramiel laughed, he didn’t know what else to do. “You could have said that sooner.” He dropped the bag. ” Well I can at least take you to the Locus.”
He grinned. “Yeah, sure. Besides, if I run into any werewolves, it might be handy to have you there.”
They left the house and journeyed to the spring locus. Before Roxas disappeared, he said. “This could take a while I know you only have a few hours, but you still might have to wait here for a while. She’s not exactly the sort of person you just summon out of the blue and expect her to be in a good mood about it.”
Ramiel found a place to get comfy. “I left a note. Besides, I know where there is a great hot spring nearby.”
Roxas chuckled. “Well yeah. That would be the spring we’re going to.”
After they got there, Roxas suddenly vanished. Ramiel waited for over two hours and he knew time was growing short.
The woman who suddenly appeared standing in the warm waters on the edge of the spring was gorgeous. She had tattoos, somewhat reminiscent of Lyla’s. She also had a few more scars, though it seemed Lyla was on the fast track lately to catching up. Her face held maturity, yet she retained a shockingly youthful face to go with the body.
This was Lyla’s mother? She didn’t look but a few years older than Lyla herself. She certainly didn’t look as old as Melisande did, and they were supposed to be the same age.
But then his senses awakened. Werewolf! they screamed. He understood the feeling well enough, though he’d never been in the presence of one so powerfully, frighteningly dangerous! She looked at him with eyes that felt as cold as a predator’s, one that saw humans as prey.
“So, boy. I’m here. This is your one free call, so make it good,” she said in a soft voice that was both a purr and a warning growl.
His entire body tensed. Ramiel jumped just enough that he broke the bottle in his hands. Shit. He brushed away the broken glass and stood, trying his best not to look like prey.
“I need answers, and I was hoping that you would be able to help with them. Are you willing to help me, and Lyla?” he asked.
“That depends on the question,” she said.
“I know that our fathers or father, whichever it is, was a demon. We are changing, starting to loose control of ourselves. I need to know if there is anything you can tell me that will help us control what we are becoming, for one. My other question is about the bar of birth, is there a way to stop it if it has already been done for the month?” He had asked his questions, so he waited for an answer.
“Changing?” Lilly frowned and ignored his question about the werewolf anti-pregnancy rite. “Where is my daughter? Is she all right?” She gripped the hand-made spear she carried in her left hand and ground the butt onto the rocks near her foot.
“Yes, changing.” Ramiel noticed the spear and how she was grinding it into the ground. This might not be good. “It started some time ago, we realized that if we go too long without indulging in more carnal delights we get, well it feels like we are starving and then our eyes change, and we have to feed.In the begining we nearly killed our partners, at least the human ones.”
“But lately our lusts and hungers are growing. I have noticed it in myself, and Lyla,” he sighed, “Lyla is beginning to loose herself it seems. What started as a carnal lust as grown into more, she craves power. Just the thought of what she can do makes her eyes glow crimson.”
“A plan was set into motion by her pack. It was seen by their spiritualist that Lyla and I will loose to the demon, and when that happens we destroy everything and everyone in our path. He said we seemed to have a goal in the vision, but what it was is not clear. What I am hoping you will share with me is what we are, and is there a way to control it? “
Ramiel paused for a moment as the spear ground further into the ground. “She was stripped of her position, and unless I can find an alternative, all that she has worked for will be taken from her. If that happens I have no doubts she will kill her Ulfric for vengeance. That is when I will loose her. So is she ok? No, neither of us are. But she is not hurt, she is sleeping at home for the moment. Can you help me?” he asked.
“Let’s walk,” said Lilly. She started moving down the mountain, making Ramiel hurry to catch up and walk beside her. At first, he thought she was barefoot walking in the snow, but then he notice she simply wore hand-crafted, soft beige moccasins. The let her move from stone to stone with agility that made Ramiel take some dangerous jumps to try to keep up. He could see where Lyla got her natural grace.
Once they were on more even ground, Lilly began to speak. “This is not what I expected, Ramiel. I didn’t know the two of you were having problems. But it’s true that her conception, and yours, was strange. Neither your mother, nor I, know how it really happened. For me, it was only a dream. I dreamed of a man, a very handsome man, who came to me in my dreams. He was charming and, well, it was a dream. A wet dream, I suppose you could say. Only, a month later I had found out it wasn’t a dream at all. I can’t tell you what happened. I don’t know. All I know is that I never saw the man that appeared in my dreams again. I had always hoped that my daughter would be just a normal human being. It was not to be, I suppose.
“What you say makes no sense to me. What is this strange lust you speak of? Is it a psychological condition? Maybe she’s just going mad with power. If so, I can knock some sense into her, I think.” She looked at him. “Do you and she live around here then?”
Ramiel watched her move and could think only one thing. MILF. “Yeah, the old resort in Eldon Well. I renovated it for her and the pack.” He took a deep breath in, and exhaled slowly. “But I don’t think knocking her around will help much unless you were around.”
“Or I take her with me,” she told him.
“Uh, I think not,” Ramiel said. “About the other — you know lust, desire, cravings. That high you get at the apex of sex when your soul feels as though it will burst and meld with your partner, only you take that energy that manifests and drenched your body and mind in ecstasy and you devour it. You feed on it your body wanting it more and more, needing it to maintain control. Then your body begins to hunger and feed on other things as well. For Lyla it is power, wealth, she craves it. For me it is violence and blood, the kill and the….”
Ramiels’ eyes rolled slightly and he licked his suddenly dry lips. Again he inhaled deeply and let out a long breath. “When my anger gets the best of me my eyes change. For Lyla it is when she has, I guess you could say a power high.”
“Great. So you and she are psychotic. What am I, your shrink?” Lilly asked harshly. “Get your heads out of your asses and straighten up. This thing you’re talking about is bullshit. You think you have a bit of trouble controlling yourselves and want to blame it on some supernatural ailment? Fine. But I didn’t breed a weak daughter. She can get hold of herself and if you’re man enough for her, then so will you.
“Look Ramiel.” She stopped and turned him toward her. “I’m not being a bitch. I can sense what you are, and I know you’re trying to talk to me and you don’t feel like you’re getting through right now. But I have answered your question, whether you realize it or not. Only the two of you can control the two of you. Outside forces can only do so much. Your mother and I — we can’t save you from this. No one can but you yourselves. So get a grip. Use whatever you have to but just get a grip. If you can’t then you have to take her to me. I’ll teach her control. But I think it would be far better for her if she learned it herself. Or if you figure it out, you could teach it to her.”
Ramiel looked her in the eye and wanted to say a lot of things that would most likely get him killed. “I wasn’t asking for you to save us. I was hoping for a little more than a wet dream so I can figure out how to control what is happening. I want to save Lyla but I don’t want to destroy her to do it.
“I nearly killed Lyla in a fight, she pushed me and I pushed back. Only I did so harder. I left while she was in the hospital. It tore me up inside that I hurt her. But it was not until recently I realized that part of me enjoyed it. How do I control something like that?”
The look in her eyes made him cringe, “I know I know, it was rhetorical.” he said. The few seconds he watched her felt like an eternity. “You both work with the Shadow men, is there anything you can tell me? Maybe why Melisande left us? or what the hell is going on?”
“No. That’s for her to tell. As for what’s going on, sure I’ll tell you, though I thought you already knew, since you’ve been working for the Shadow Group. You are the Shadow Man, now, Ramiel. Or at least, one of them. You do whatever it takes to stop the Brotherhood of Light and their vision of the future. That’s what the Shadow Group does. The Shadow Men are the agents of the Group. You want more detail, talk to your handler. I think you know who he is.
“Only I guess you can’t do whatever it takes, can you? If you do, from what you say, you’ll be consumed by bloodlust and become a demon.” Lilly threw her head back and gave a long, hearty laugh. It was a bitter sound full of pain and regret. “How about that? A Dark Man who gives a shit? What’s the world coming to.”
Lilly shook her head at the rhetorical question and continued. “That’s not new to you, or it shouldn’t be. My guess is that you knew it subconsciously. Lyla didn’t join up, did she?” Lilly gave a short, humorless laugh. “She didn’t much care for taking instructions from me, much less anyone else. No surprise there.”
Lilly paused and looked past Ramiel’s shoulder. He had a creepy feeling and glanced, but didn’t see anything. After quickly casting an instant spell to let him see into Twilight, he saw a ghost there. A chill passed through him as he recognized the long coat and wide-brimmed hat, the shadowed face. This apparition was once a Dark Man.
Lilly looked angry, but it was directed at the ghost. “Dammit. You should have told me,” the powerful werewolf muttered under her breath. “We’ll talk later.”
To Ramiel, she said, “Okay, last free answer since you should have already known what I just told you. Anything else is going to cost you. I didn’t know this myself because I apparently have friends that keep shit from me, too,” she said irritably. “You, Lyla and your friends beat the Dark Man, the agent all those years ago. Straight up beat him. Killed him dead. And then you wiped your own minds of it to save yourselves because you couldn’t control the power. Because it would have consumed you and you’d have slain your friends next. Whatever that means to you now, you figure it out, kid.
“One last thing. I don’t work for the Shadow Group, except as an occasional, independent contractor. Got it? I came here because your mother is my oldest friend. That’s it. So, this is your one freebie, kiddo. Next time you ask for me, you come find me.
“Now for the second time, where’s my daughter? I’m going to pay her visit today.”
Ramiel had the strangest mixture of emotion he had ever felt. He snapped to attention as any child does when mom yells at him. But another part of him wanted to snap to attention in other ways. “Uhh, I said earlier, the house. I can carry you if it faster other wise follow me.”
She gave him a withering look. He led the way home.
When they arrived, Ramiel saw that Lyla must have awakened at some point since he’d been out. She was at the door when Ramiel came in. Ramiel had to admit she didn’t look all that well. She seemed tired and too pale.
Ramiel immediately went to her side. “You shouldn’t be up yet.” His hand went to her side and gently lifted her nightgown. He checked the wound to see how it was healing. “I don’t know much about it but that doesn’t look good. Let’s take you back to bed.”
Lyla was looking at who came in the door with him. “Mother?”
“You look like shit, kid,” said her mother. “What have you been doing?”
“My Ulfric set all my females on me as a punishment for refusing his order.”
“He what?” Lilly said, raising her voice enough Ramiel had to worry if it would wake Serena. “Does your Ulfric require the whole pack to punish one?”
“He does if he wants to punish me,” she said.
“You don’t look that strong to me,” her mother said, crossing her arms. She’d seen the wound that Ramiel had checked by raising Lyla’s sheer, red nightgown. “And I smell fresh blood.”
“I am exhausted, mother,” Lyla said irritably. “And all the pack’s loci have mysterious run out of essence for me to use. I needed to speak with the spirits so I had to sacrifice my blood.”
Lilly frowned. “How did that work?”
Lyla didn’t tell her. Instead, she simply said, “The spirits have honored me for my strength in facing and fighting four of my own pack. I did not cower. I fought until I was unable.”
Lilly looked appraisingly at her daughter. “They did, did they?” Lyla didn’t answer and a short silence followed. Lilly put her hands on her hips. “Well, you may have no power but I do. Ramiel and I’ll will put you back in your room where I will heal your wound and you will tell me what you’ve been doing since I last saw you.”
Ramiel glanced at the stairs. Hope the kid inherited my sleeping habits. He scooped Lyla up into his arms and started upstairs. “What could be so important that you had to go and do that?” He asked in a quiet tone as he went down. He stopped briefly and looked in on Serena before continuing to his room.
Sitting Lyla down on the bed he stepped aside and gave Lilly plenty of room. He then proceeded to remove his coat and slump it to the floor.
He opened what looked like a small dresser next to his bed and took out the JD, small glass and ice. Poured himself a drink, and out the JD back. Next he pulled out a small bottle of water. “She get’s thirsty at night. I will be right back, Do either of you want something to drink?” he asked as he went to the door.
Lilly shook her head, but Lyla said, “Yes. Something red and alcoholic.”
Ramiel checked on Serena, but she was still asleep. When he returned to the room, he found Lyla’s mother shifted from wolf back to human form. She had already finished the healing and Lyla was tossing away the bandage.
“The song Stacie’s Mom has all new meaning for me.” he smiled as he handed a large glass to Lyla, and poured a very generous amount of wine into it. He looked to Lilly. “Name your pleasure and I can make it happen.”
Lyla decided to ignore his comment about the song. Lilly said, “I’m fine.”
Seeing them sitting together, it struck Ramiel again how very much alike they looked. Lilly could be her older sister. “Hey,” Lilly said gruffly. “Eyes here.” She pointed to her face. “This is our time now. Bye-bye.”
Lyla gave him a wry smile and a wink to reassure him.
Ramiels’ eyes went wide. Was he really being kicked out of his own room, Ugh! He knew better than to piss her off though. Very few things in life scared him, and she did. Even Ironclaw might wet himself in her presence.
He crossed the room and once again retrieved the bottle of JD. “Thank you.” he said to Lilly. Giving small salute he closed the door behind him.
He stopped again in Serena’s doorway. She squirmed a little in her sleep, her hands twitching as she tossed, sending the blanket to the floor. Ramiel stepped silently into the room and returned the blanket to it’s former position. Gently he pushed the hair out of her face and hummed his lost lullaby until she was once again calmed.
It was a familiar tune, his mother had always sang it to him when his nightmare’s cam on. The words were long forgotten, but the melody stayed with him. He even used it to calm Lyla, a couple time while she was in Garu form.
As he watched Serena sleep he could not deny how she has impacted his life. She had changes him. Could the same work for Lyla?