Chapter 3 – Come what may
Anita took a deep breathe as she looked up at the RPIT building. She’d never been nervous to walk inside of it before, but after everything Damian had told them the night before, she was now. She both wanted to tell them all what she found out and ask for their help, they were going to need all the help they could get their hands on if what he said was true, and running the other way so she didn’t have to deal with it. After everything, all the shit, she’d already delt with over the past few years, why couldn’t she just leave this one up to someone else, demons and her didn’t exactly mix. Damians words still had the power to send a shiver down her spine as they echoed through her memory.
“A summoning? For what?” What was someone trying to summon. A ghost? A zombie?
“A demon.” That hadn’t even entered her mind as an option, looking around the table she saw she wasn’t the only one floored by the revelation. Even trying to summon a demon to this reality was notoriously a bad idea, those few that survived the attempt, well they usually wished they hadn’t.
“A demon?” She watched the irritation flash across his face at being questioned, for just a second before he got his emotions back under tight control and it disapeared like it had never happened. She didn’t really blame him, they’d asked for his knowledge and now they were questioning his claims. Anyone would get at least irritated about that.
“Yes, it is an ancient summoning spell, it was still being used during my human years. The instructions, for lack of a better term, were lost long ago. Many say they were lost on purpose after the destruction the attempts rought.”
Destruction? She didn’t know why that word even surprised her, they were talking about demons after all it wasn’t like they caused rainbows and happy feelings. She wanted to ask, if they were going to be going up against this thing they would need to know, but her mouth had gone suspiciously and completely dry making speech nearly impossible.
“What happened?” Rafeal to the rescue, with her matter of fact way of his.
“These rituals were mainly uniform until you reached the last stage. You had a week after the first component was gathered to reach the final stage, usually the practitioners would arrange it so that the final night of the summoning fell on the full moon to add strength to their attempts. You would need the pelts of five seperate animals, or shifters, the type depending on what you were trying to summon. The mightier and more fierce the demon the stronger and more feral the animal would have to be, the skins were then woven together into a book cover and binding for the summoners book of truths, the point being to imbue the spell with the qualitites that you sought. After that would come the first sacrafice, the sacrafice of life. This was usually a coven of witches or druids, as they were more attuned with the ways of the earth and thus seen as being closer to the viens of life itsself, the numbers remaining consistent. Five animals, five lives. Finally the final stage would come on the final night of the ritual. The sacrafice of death, usually either zombies or in some cases for the more brave and powerful vampires. Once the chant was spoken and the final death was given the portal would open and the demon would be pulled through, usually into a binding circle lain in the center of the space used.”
Wow, that was a very involved ritual, and if it had been going on for a few days now and was finally coming to a close, if the dead witches in the Lupinar are anything to go by, that would explain Marianne’s phone call. The closer the time came for the summoning to be complete the more power there would be pulsing through the air, the more others of magic would be able to feel it. Plus the murder of that whole coven would have sent out a ripple effect of sorts as well. Add it all up and it would seem her friend had been right to be afraid, and now that fear was beginning to spread.
“Binding circle?” Bless Rafeal and his single minded focus. He was in survival mode and survival usually depended on the ammount of information you had at your finger tips. He was thinking about contingency plans, what to do if they couldn’t stop the summoning from being completed, what to do if the demon came through.
“Yes, it was customary to use a circle of power, usually made of the blood of the sacrafice of life to bind the demon and keep it confined to a single circle of power. Demons were not usually asked for their consent before they were pulled through, so as you can imagine they were usually hostile after being pulled through dimensions by a being they would consider to be weak and beneath them. The circle was used to keep them from killing the caster while they became more oriented and the person who performed the ritual explained things.”
“Explained things? Like what?” New world, new rules, what? What could you possibly explain to a demon? They weren’t exactly the intillectual types, or at least the ones she’d met hadn’t been. More single minded, and hell bent on destruction really.
“Less explaination truly, and more bargaining. Most who took it upon themselves to summon a demon usually did so with a particular purpose in mind, a specific goal. The standard bargain was that they woud release the demon from the circle, and help it navigate the new world they found themselves a part of, and in exchange the demon would do their bidding.”
“Can’t image that deal going over too well.” What kind of an idiot thought an all powerful demon woud agree to being their bitch boy? In exchange for freedom and information no less.
“It did not. As you can image the demons agreed, only the caster usually forgot one very important detail. Demons lie. As soon as the circles were broken the demons would kill the casters and then they would turn on anyone else close by before going on a rampage of death and destruction.”
“How were they stopped?”
“With faith I presume, I was never a part of the clean up, so to speak. My people were usually responsible for the belongings of the caster, burning them normally, and making sure there evil could never be used again.”
“So this demon, it will be like any other right?” Like there’s such a thing as an ordinary demon.
“That all depends trully. It will all come down to what was used to summon it. The more powerful the “ingredients” the more powerful the demon that is pulled through. You said the shifter you found was a wolf, assuming the others are also predators then this demon is likely to be a fighter… a warrior even. Depending on the power level of the coven, this demon could have any number of skills or abilities. Also the power of the sacrafice of death will factor in. Whether the caster chooses five zombies, the older the more powerful, or five vampires. I would need to know more about what’s already been done to tell you what to expect with any certainty.”
So that was it why she was here, she needed to backtrack their guy, and see who else he’d killed. If she could find all the shifters that were skinned then not only would she know how strong the demon would be, but they would also have a time line. If she knew when the first shifter was killed they could count forward and see how long they had before the ritual was completed. She just hoped this guy hadn’t aimed for the full moon, because that was tomorrow night.
Jean-Claude stood in his office and faced his closest allies, some closer than others, as he outlined what was happening around them. They had all already noticed that an elaborate game was being played out around them, he was only filling in some of the details and the possible end results.
Richard, had spent the time between this meeting and the last as he normally did during times of crisis, with his head firmly in the sand coming up with excuses for why the coming fight was not for his people to soldier in. Of course this time he had failed in that argument, Jamil and Sylvie had pointed out with the help of his beloved Jason that a demon was unlikely to take something as intangible as allegiance or participation in the fight into consideration if it began to slaughter the masses. So here he sat with them at his back, waiting for his marching orders.
Rafael, having been at the last meeting was already aware of what was at stake and had spent the day gathering forces, counting his number who would be willing and able to fight if it came down to it. His shifters may not be the largest in number but they were the best fighters of any of them. While not all of the rats were soldiers or the like nearly ninety percent of them were, or had been at some point. He was a leader who knew the value of strength.
Narcissus ever the survivor had gathered up what fighters he now had after his unfortunate run in with Chimera. They were poorly trained for the most part, Narcissus himself not nearly disciplined enough to keep them in true fighting form, but they would be good canon fodder if nothing else. He could admit, if only to himself, that his past dealing with the Hyenas may be coloring his view of them. They might prove to be worthy allies in this fight, might.
Ma Petite, spending the entire day in the company of the lauded RPIT had not put her in a very good mood, not that she really had much of a good mood these days. Though he sacrifice was well worth it with the information it had produced. Behind her stood her ever present help-mates, Nathaniel and Micah. It was rare these days to see her without one or the other, and now here they both stood. He was jealous, he knew this, they got parts of Anita that he knew she would never give to him, but that was neither here nor there at the moment. Such petty discords were being put aside for the moment in an effort to save them all.
From his own people he’d chosen Asher and Damien to be present, for their knowledge and possible contributions to the problem. Hopefully their forces would be unnecessary, the person could be caught before the summoning could be completed, but what was the saying again, he would rather have them and not need them than need them and not have them.
“Now that everyone is caught up on the situation, for those of you who were not present before, let’s move on to what new information has been discovered. Anita?” She hated it when he called her ma petite before others during a planning session, she thought it detracted from her authority. He blamed so much time spent with the police department for that untruth, she was the executioner, no mere pet name could ever detract from her power.
Anita silently thanked Jean-Claude for his small concession in not calling her by one of his little names for her at the moment. She knew he didn’t agree, but she truly didn’t like it when he called her anything but her given name in from of others during a crisis. Too much time spent in boys-town with the nice men in blue she supposed, but it was too late to change now.
Clearing her throat she began to out line what she’d learned at the RPIT offices that day. What a fun filled day that was, her hears were still ringing from Dolphs shouts.
“What the hell do you mean it’s a summoning! What kind of a summoning? Exactly how long were you planning on holding this back Blake?” Dolph was breathing so heavily and his face was so red that she actually feared that he might just have a stoke and be done with it. He really needed to work on keeping calm in these situations.
“I haven’t held anything back, in case it’s escaped your notice, here I am telling you everything I know.” What a conversation that had been, it had only taken 45 minutes to convince him that she wasn’t just being a smarass about the whole thing. In fact Zebrowski had to step in so that he would even consider taking her seriously.
“So what you’re telling me is that you just so happen to know exactly what these symbols mean, what changed between now and yesterday when you said you didn’t know squat like the rest of us?” Like he didn’t already know. Like he didn’t figure out exactly where this information was coming from.
“I asked an expert.” He had nothing to say to that, there was nothing to say, all he did was shake his head like he was disappointed in me.
Dolphs attitude only got darker the longer she stayed there. It was like he cared more about the fact that the information came from a vampire than the fact that a demon was being summoned. She thought it probably had something to do with the fact that demons were so far outside of his experience that he just couldn’t think about them for very long, or really image the destruction they could rain down on everyone and everything around them. Vampires were a safer target for his anger, which was a sentence she never thought she would ever think.
“The first shifter was a jaguar whose body was found skinned in Vegas six days ago. If Damian is right about the timeline then the demon will be summoned tomorrow night, on the full moon.”
That was it, all that needed to be said, they had less than twenty-four hours to stop this from happening or they would all be screwed.
“Do we know anything about the sacrifice of death? Have there been any zombies raised or vampires unaccounted for?” That was were things got a little complicated.
As she prepared to answer she saw one of Jean-Claude’s vampires slip into the room to speak to him quietly. Dismissing it as none of her business for the moment she did her best to answer the question.
“We think there’s going to be a mix of the two. So far there have been two zombies raised by animators from other states, each of them over a century old that have gone missing. The animators themselves were killed at the gravesite, but the zombies themselves are unaccounted for. Beyond that Malcolm admits that one of his flock has gone missing this week. While this vampire is not particularly old, she would still count as a part of the ritual. If they are a part of it that means that this caster still needs two more either vampires of zombies.”
“Not any longer. I was just informed that two of my vampires have gone missing.”
“Who?” Please, not someone I care about. She knew it was a horrible thing to think, she should be worried for anyone in general, but she was self aware enough to know that there are certain vampires that she cares about more than others, and some that she doesn’t care about one way or the other.
“Bartolome and Valentina.”
Anita stumbles into her house, nearly blind with panic really. This ritual was really going to happen, this caster had all of the ingredients that he needed to summon a demon, and the resolve to do it. She knew that it had always been a foregone conclusion that this was going to happen one way or another, but until tonight when the last of the vampires were taken she’d all but convinced herself that somehow they would stop it before it even began. They were the good guys in this situation after all, and the good guys were supposed to win in situations like these.
She knew she was jaded and she usually didn’t believe in absolutes like that, but this time she had, and she’d been wrong.
There was really only one other option left to her. Picking up the phone she dialed the number that she had memories long ago.
“Edward, I need you.”