Danny was kneeling in one of the freshly cleaned out rooms in the building that Algie had acquired for him. It was in downtown Raleigh and that alone was enough to show what kind of influence the firm that Algie ran had. Anything inside the belt line a circle of freeways that encircled North Carolinas’ capital city cost two almost three times anything similar on the outside. He was pretty sure that he wouldn't have had the money for a place this size out in the sticks where his house was. So whatever deal had been worked, it had been a good one. So far Algie hadn’t even come to him about costs. He was prepared to pay for the place but hey if a four floor factory style building with a ten foot brick wall and razor wire around it ended up being free, he was pretty sure he wouldn’t be too upset about it. It was a week ago now when he was picked up in one of Algie’s cars and taken to his office, once he had arrived one of Algie’s employees met him in the parking deck and escorted him into the building apologizing that Algie couldn't be there to do it himself. The young woman explained that a meeting had gone over the allotted time and it couldn't be helped. She took Danny to some kind of waiting room or lounge or something and once he was comfortable on a large leather couch she fixed him a drink and motioned to a small silver button on the side of the coffee table. She explained to him that if he needed anything that he only needed to push the button and someone would assist him. As she left the room she pressed a button on a wall panel and a large screen lowered from the ceiling at the same time a panel slid back on the surface of the coffee table to reveal a short platform that rose up to offer a remote to control it. He grabbed up the remote and began to press buttons. As one would expect from that kind of setup it had every channel in every language one could think of, which also meant that he couldn’t find anything to watch. After a few minutes of pointless channel surfing he left it on one of the alternative rock music stations and leaned back on the couch and began to dig around in his pocket for his lighter. He stared at the blank screen for a minute clearing his mind and then brought up the flame. After cycling through all the colors of the rainbow and making the flame range in size from almost too small to notice, to so large that if left that way for any real length of time the fuel would run out and the lighter would die on him. He ran through the sizes and colors and began to work on both of them at the same time. A large red flame would shrink as it began to deepen to a purple flame which would shift to a yet smaller flame and brighten to yellow. It was this mixing of the two exercises that Volnam told him was the actual exercise and that the two on their own wasn’t even something that required effort for the most idiotic of Demonic Magi. Once he started working on the two together the Imp didn’t seem to bother him as much while he was actually practicing, he still hadn’t decided if it was a good thing or a bad one. One thing the Imp did complain at him about constantly was that the world he was learning magic to become a part of was dangerous and that dangerous was understating it so much that the word was completely inadequate. because of this Danny had to work on being aware of what was going on around him while he was practicing if even one of the minor players in the Abyssal power struggles got wind of a warlock alive and practicing he would show interest in him and that almost completely meant end of the line. It was this paying attention part that he must have failed at again because by the time he noticed that Algie was sitting in a large wing backed leather chair in the corner of the room the man already looked like he had been there long enough to get very comfortable. Algie was himself spellbound. His eyes locked on the flame of the lighter he looked like he was trying to figure out what color would be next and as caught up in it as someone watching a really good mystery movie and was seconds from figuring out who the killer was. Since he had an audience Danny decided to try something that he had thought about but had never actually attempted before. Along with his regular commands of color and size he began to force the flame to change its fuel source rather than use the fuel from inside the lighter in combination with the air in the room he forced it to rely more and more on power he was gathering from the room. Eventually the lighter was no longer being used Danny could feel the flame drawing on him for what it needed instead. He kept his focus and lowered the lighter the flame stayed in place floating in the air just below chest level. He kept it there and slowly cycled through size and color one more time ending at a shade of purple that he had grown fond of during all the hours of practice. Ever so slowly he cut off the power that it was drawing from him for its life force and as he did it grew smaller and smaller until it winked out. He leaned back into the couch and was very close to just nodding off to sleep but before he could get that far Algie spoke as he began to slowly walk towards Danny.
“That was an amazing display. I’m not sure how one generally responds after something like that; I do have half a mind to applaud if it wouldn’t seem to out of place.”
Danny was about to hold up his hand to wave off any applause he might receive when he realized that the older gentleman was only joking with him. He stood to go with Algie who was motioning towards the door and almost fell face first onto the coffee table. Algie moved to catch him when he saw him tipping over but the exhausted warlock managed to sway himself back towards the couch instead. He fell back onto the thick leather cushions and slid over onto his side the top of his head just managing to land softly onto the arm rest. With a little assistance he got himself back into a sitting position and after a minute of fighting himself to stay awake he finally was back on his feet again. As they left the room he noticed that Algie was staying well within arm’s reach but not so close as to make it seem like he was expecting him to fall over again. A few minutes later he was melting into the cushions of the leather wing back chair that faced Algie’s desk. He had really begun to like that chair. Eventually he decided he was going to ask Algie where he picked it up at and see if he couldn’t pick one up for himself. Once he was seated and comfortable Algie went through the regular ritual of offering him something to drink or eat and asking if there was anything else he needed before they actually got down to business.
“So Danny what I have here are a few folders with some information on different properties around the area that My people thought you might be interested in based on the things you pointed out in a few of our previous talks. I just wanted to have you look through them and tell us if we were on the right track or not.”
As he spoke he handed one of those brown envelopes that was shaped like an accordion over to Danny who opened it to find several manila folders inside each was labeled with an address on the tab. He pulled them out one by one and looked them over. They had the address with a picture of the property and some information about the building on the first page and then lists of details on the following pages. As he flipped through them he remembered when He and Monique had decided that they were ready for their first house. right after they got married they had moved into a small apartment until they were financially ready for the big plunge into a mortgage and when they decided the time was right she was almost as excited as she was the day he proposed to her. She began researching all the neighborhoods and what property values were and countless other things that you do when you are getting ready to buy a home. Thinking back on it now all Danny seemed to remember from the whole six month ordeal was how much she smiled. It turned out that they weren't as financially ready for their own home as they thought because they couldn’t afford or were told they couldn’t get a loan for the first few homes that they went to check out. So they ended up out in the sticks but it was a quiet neighborhood with kids and neighbors who actually seemed to care about what happened. She was always smiling. when everything was covered and paperwork was signed Remi came out from Oregon to help them move it was a good time with a spare bedroom and the company that Remi had setup being self-sufficient they decided that he could stay if he wanted to so everyone decided that they would give it a try for six months and see if the three of them wanted to rip their hair out by the end of it. They never made it to six months... Every memory he had came back to that point. All of them every single happy memory he had came back to the same point and then they all stopped. There was no happiness after that point. Danny felt a spike of pain in the back of his skull and had the tightness in his throat that people always get just before they cry. He knew what the pain meant, it was power. Much of his power came from emotional response he used the excess power that was building up as a chance to practice another of his exercises. Physical strength his own health and endurance could be converted to the same energy he used to power his spells and the same worked in reverse, that energy could be converted back into physical health and strength for himself. It had to be done in smaller amounts though. A large surge of power taken from his body and used for a spell would weaken him even making him physically weaker, like going from the size and shape of a body builder to the stereotypical computer nerd. Extreme uses of himself as fuel for his magic could leave him looking starved, muscles withered and cheeks and eyes sunken in. Massive amounts of energy gathered from an outside source and used for strength could have the opposite effect with worse changes, muscles could become bloated skin could tear it was even possible to have it not even take the form of muscles the human body often stored excess energy as fat deposits he could go from his well-kept firm body to a blob not capable of supporting his own weight on his bones, Volnam had warned him against playing with this side of things until he had a little more practice. He thought it over again and decided that this was a little practice and carefully began to channel the power away he even attempted to focus on how and where the energy was used. After a few seconds it didn’t seem like any noticeable changes had been made.
Danny didn’t remember closing his eyes but he did realize that he had to open them. At some point. Algie had stopped talking and was watching him patiently. When Danny nodded to him that he was good He began again. Asking questions and directing Danny’s attention to this folder or that one.
After almost two hours they were done and Algie had a car prepared to send Danny back home. That whole ride home he had thought about his attempt to contact Monique and that damned angel. About the time the driver pulled onto his street Danny realized that he had never tried to contact his brother, what had happened to Remi. Monique hadn’t mentioned him and Danny hadn’t thought to ask. As he climbed out of the backseat of the car and thanked the driver for the ride he decided that he was going to contact his brother and this time wither he wanted to or not Volnam was going to help him.
Now that there was money Volnam was constantly lobbying to have more liquor in the house Danny didn’t care so much he didn’t really have a lot of time to drink any of it but that little rat demon never found a time when it wasn’t the right time to be drinking. That did however seem to contribute to the fact that Volnam would go into strange little forty five minute comas. That first night that Danny had decided that he wanted Volnam to help him contact his brother the stubborn little prick of an imp said no and that there were too many things that Danny needed to be working on. Danny didn’t force the issue he just started planning.
When Volnam woke up he was hanging upside down tied up in a bundle of something metallic he tried to move his arms and realized that he was tied up and not tied up in the way that
Humans normally do to each other with their hands tied behind their backs. Instead he was bound in a solid coil from his feet to his neck he couldn't even flex his shoulders back and forth. There was pain coming from his tail and he craned his neck just far enough to see that he was being suspended by his tail. There was a loop of rope coming down from the ceiling fan in the living room and it was wrapped around his barb several times. He tried to twist his wrist around to saw at whatever it was that was binding him only to find that his wings had been pulled out and wrapped around his arm and legs and the whatever it was that was binding him had been done over them. He found that it was some kind of metallic cable that he was wrapped up in but wasn't sure which humans were very adept at metallurgy which made since they were addicted to war and all of its implements. He let his head go limp and hung there trying to figure out what his pupil had planned for him he was finally glad to see that Asmodan had been paying attention when Volnam was explaining about the finer points of negotiation, this would most definitely be considered a position of power should it be a bargain the warlock to be would be starting in.
Asmodan was outside in the evening air practicing gathering power and then releasing it back out into his surrounding, it was a practice that Volnam didn't approve of, and he believed that it was a waste. If you were going to gather power you might as well use it to set something of fire or practice killing flies with it or some such form of fine tuning. When Volnam woke up he felt it and what both surprised and pleased him was that he could tell that Volnam didn’t feel him in the same instant. He finished what he was doing feeling the energy dissipate slowly into the environment around him flittering away into the breeze he could almost imagine that he saw it a pale green tinge in the air around him. He might be able to see it but most likely not yet. Volnam had given an example of a large enough amount of power to actually do some real damage and you could actually see the massed power whipping around him wildly until he unleashed it as a massive fireball that went out over the cape fear river and exploded on the other side. They were both standing at an old Civil war lookout point and Danny dropped down to take cover behind the wall that had been built up for tourists to lean on as they took in the view. The news would later record the incident as a rare meteor strike although no meteor was ever found. No the levels of power that Danny was playing with so far were nothing like that, but they would be soon he thought to himself as he turned and headed inside.
Volnam hung limp from the light at the base of the ceiling fan in the middle of the living room, his eyes were closed but Danny knew he was still awake. He could feel the Imps mind probing out into the area it knew he was there but the imp was ignoring him. Danny walked around him and Sat down on the couch. He took a moment to get comfortable then reached for the remote to turn on the TV when.
“OK OK you can let me down now.”
Volnam had done an excellent job of sounding like he wasn’t mad. But once he started talking, Danny could see the twitching that those bald little fox ears did when he did something that he knew bugged the Imp like comparing his studies to fantasy games or movies.
“No I can’t.”
Danny replied sounding almost bored with the conversation before it got started. He aimed the Remote at the TV and pressed the power button.
Now Volnam sounded like he was somewhere between confused child and irate demon. Danny wasn’t sure how he pulled those tones of voice off but he managed now and then.
“Because you don’t even know why you are hanging there. Letting you down would be a waste of the effort of wrapping all that cable around you and dealing with that damned barb on your ratty little tail.”
“My tail is ratty... ahh erh is not Ra...”
He knew he was stumbling on his words and that Danny was gonna harass him for it like he always did so he just changed his tactics.
“You useless waste of flesh Mortal my tail is not ratty!”
Now telepathy was where he was stronger and they both knew it.
“I know you have seen at rat I caught you eating one the other night remember? you remember that things tail don’t you?”
As he spoke out loud he summoned up an image of a rats tail and even added a large yellow arrow above it and placed the image in the Imps mind.
“See, told you.”
He sat the remote down and crossed his arms over his chest claiming victory over the rat tail argument. Volnam hung there a few seconds and then attempted to use his mind to force Danny to let him down. Mind control hurt, well if it was resisted it hurt. Danny felt it start and was leaning forward to get up off the couch before he even noticed what was going on. When he caught on he tried to close his mind off to the Imp, Damn he was a smooth customer when it came to the mind games. He couldn't kick the Imp out he just fought. He brought up images of tons of weight holding him down on the couch imagined Ropes and chains coming up out of the couch cushions and wrapping around his arms and legs and pulling him back. He could feel it working he was moving back down towards the couch. Damned Imp managed to take this and turn it into an exercise just like most everything else. He was starting to move forward again he could feel himself loosing. He stopped focusing on new ways to slow himself down and just pulled his mind in on itself.
Volnam felt the humans mind stop resisting and opened his eyes to see Danny getting up and moving over towards him. Once he was standing behind him he bounced forward a little as Danny’s chest bounced into him while he was reaching up to begin to untie him. He grinned at himself stupid weak minded mort... he didn’t finish the thought.
“NO!” Danny had built up every ounce of mental energy he could and had begun to focus the frustration from having his will taken from him and channeled it into one word it was both mental and magical it was an attack and a defense and a command all at once. He told the imp no. as soon as he did it he felt the Imps mind fling itself back away from him drawing itself back into the safety of its own skull. Once free of him Danny stumbled back away from the rope he was in the process of undoing. He could feel massive mental walls going up as Volnam began to protect himself from any further assaults. He remembered feeling proud of himself just as he passed out.
He opened his eyes and found himself laying face first on the floor of his living room, as he began to get up he saw dried blood on the floor right about where his nose would have been. He reached up to check himself and winced as he did. Danny got up to his knees and made his way back over to the couch. He was going to climb up onto the couch and decided that that would be too much work and sat on the floor with his back resting against it. He tilted his head back and looked up at Volnam. Still hanging from the fan and staring daggers down at him. His yellow eyes blazed throwing off enough light to replace a pair of decent sized flashlights.
“Soo umm you still hanging around?” he sounded like nothing had happened.
“Yes, I think I am going start sleeping like this all the time. But you are going to have to start setting aside enough time to wrap me up each night.”
There was nothing in those words but Malice and poison, Volnam wasn’t attempting to hide any of it.
“No we better not let you get used to that cause then I’m going to have to get you down every mourning too. That sounds like a lot of work for me.”
“What do you want?”
“Ohh yeah that... I told you about what happened when I contacted Monique right?”
“... Yes.” Danny could feel the mental sigh.
“Well I was thinking about it and she never mentioned my brother. I’m going to contact him next, and you’re going to help me. Well... you are if you want me to let you down.”
He didn’t say anything thing else, he just waited and waited and waited. He knew how this next part was going to go. Volnam was currently thinking about how things currently stood and that meant everything from trivial things like if he wanted different liquor in the house or didn't like the bednestmess thing that he had made for himself to sleep in up to large things like bargains concerning his standing when Danny would finally come into power and start having massive effects on things. Then once the Imp came up with something that he figured was too much for what he was being asked to do Danny would have to counter offer and finally they would make a pact and things could finally get moving. After what had to have been close to fifteen minutes Danny was just starting to think that Volnam was going to end up saying no which is really bad grounds to make a counter offer on, But the Imp bent his scrawny neck forward so that he could look up into Danny’s eyes.
“Only this time, then no more family. Only work.”
“That’s your condition? That after I talk with him I just stop dealing with my family and focus on being the Warlock?” The Imp did not reply he just hung there looking up at him.
“Not good enough, I need a condition.” The Imp raised his long ratty eyebrows in a very human expression which basically said, well spit it out already.
“If his situation is different than hers was... If he isn’t with her, I’m going to bring him back.”
That brought the Imps eyebrows up far enough to make his ears fold back over the back of his head. “Bring him back how? What do you mean by that? As a spirit or poltergeist?”
“You can not do what you are making it sound like you want to do.”
“I am the Warlock, Imp. I can do whatever I want... or have you been lying to me?”
“Ahahaha ok the pact is made let me down. For you to do what you say you want you will have to spend so much time working on it, that you will not have time to eat or sleep you may have to give up breathing. To do this in your natural life time.”
Danny went into the kitchen and grabbed a tool to cut Volnam down he thought about letting the imp fall but decided there was no point in being mean he already had what he wanted. He laid the imp on the couch and cut the end that he had crimped to keep the whole mass of cable tight and began to spool it back up as he unwound it all.
Once it was all done he had told Volnam to contact whoever he had to contact so that he could find out where he brother had ended up after he died. It had taken the Imp three days of asking and waiting and the whole while making bargains for pieces of information throughout the process Volnam hadn’t wanted Asmodan to do any of the contacting himself because he didn’t want anyone else in the Abyss to know that there was a warlock and if anything out there had a clue that there might be he didn’t want them to know a mortal to check up on about it, at least not until Danny was ready to handle them all himself. In a few of the extremely rare moments when Volnam’s mind was as close to unguarded as it ever got Danny also caught slight hints that the Imp might be keeping him a secret from everyone so that they couldn't try and cut a better deal with the up and coming warlock and leave Volnam out in the cold. In the three days that Volnam looked for information Danny practiced the mental disciplines from dusk till dawn he didn’t need a lighter for fire anymore he only needed something combustible he had tried with only using the oxygen in the air once apparently there was no way for his mind or magic or whatever it was in that particular equation to understand that he only wanted the air he was focusing on to ignite and he set off an explosion of burning air that probably would have destroyed his house if he hadn’t sealed himself into a protective circle. it did singe his hair and clothes and he thought there was panic in Volnam when he came in to see what had happened but if there was any it was instantly turned to ridicule for trying something stupid before he was ready.
Danny could gather enough power from his surroundings to know that he had power and he could use it for small things now he could push something small off of the end of a table now He had asked
Volnam if that was telekinetics and the Imp explained that telekinetics was something that was done only with the mind and didn’t require the gathering of power to do it the same as you didn’t need to gather power to speak to the mind. There were many forms of magic that worked in almost the exact same manner though and Danny had stumbled onto one of those. When Danny had started to go on about learning to make magic missiles like the wizards in games the Imp stopped explaining things rolled his eyes and scurried off into the other room.
When Volnam finally had the location they were looking for he didn’t play around with it at all he simply walked onto the front porch which he did often now, he was there so much and Danny was practicing so much that the fog was up around the Danny’s end of the street at all times, two of the neighbors had actually moved and two more had their houses up for sale. people had been out to look into the cause for it but no one could figure anything out. Volnam announced that Remi was in the Nether which Danny now knew to be the in between for the abyss, heaven, hell, life and death.
For what Danny wanted to do it really was the best possible place for him to be. No one had a claim on him there so he should just be able to bring him back here. as soon as he said it Danny stood up.
“Great. Will the same calling spell I used for Monique work for him?”
Volnam walked up the Rail that ran the length of the porch and flapped his wings as he hoped up onto it.
“It should, you should not need to use as much power for it to work since she was somewhere and he is nowhere.”
“What state is he in? will he know who I am? Will there be anything I need to be ready for?”
He was already opening the storm door and heading back inside before he was done asking the questions.
“He would have most likely been confused when he first arrived there but it has been long enough now where he should have worked out some of it on his own. You would be wise to let him ask all of his questions first and then tell him your plan for him.”
He had a much stronger understanding of the powers he used now than he had when he used the calling spell last. It wasn't that he had a better understanding so much as that he had much more confidence in what he was doing now than he did then. He didn’t waste his time with nearly as many of the precautions as he had before. Volnam was sent out this time, instead of being thrown back into the Abyss. His only instructions were not to come back before mourning. The curtains were closed but there were no blankets hung over the windows. His candles and Circles were the same the circle looked much smoother this time, the difference between an elementary school students hand writing and that of a High school student. He didn't use a lighter as he lit his candles this time, his focus and competence in the rest of his skills now to the point where fire wasn't something that he gave a second thought to anymore. The chants were still as sharply etched in his memory as they were when he used them to call Monique. The difference this time is that his brother would not reject him, he knew it. he could feel it as assuredly as he could fell the power building, burning just slightly in the back of his throat as he finished the last chant and sent the name out into the Nether.
He added more to the name more power and intent each time he said it. The third time it was as close to a command as it could come without actually being so. He wasn’t commanding his brother to come to him he was inviting him, Sending him the power he needed to come. The name had the power it was as if it were a vehicle. He spoke it and charged it with power and through the spell it knew where to go. He waited sitting there in his circle after a minute he relaxed a little bit after the last time he had been so tense and he understood why. But now he knew why he didn’t have to be, he just waited there on the floor with his eyes closed and took relaxing breaths.
This was not right, when Monique answered his call it was calm, it was like it was a totally natural event. This was the opposite; there was a boom and the walls shook it was like a thunder crack in his living room. Everything shook. He could feel Remi but he couldn’t see him. He could also feel fear and rage. He couldn’t see it but he felt it there was a battle being fought in his living room. He didn’t so much panic as he just started doing things very quickly.
Remi was sitting beside one of the massive featureless rocks that dotted the endless landscape things randomly dotted the sky he had never been close to them they gave off a feeling of menace whenever they got to close and that feeling was something he had learned to listen to. There was no time here he didn’t know if he had been here forever or only a few... what worked for that reference hours? He didn’t know. He had once seen a massive two headed beast massive wasn’t even the right word for it. This thing wouldn't climb the empire state building to get away from the army like king Kong this thing would have accidentally knocked the empire state building over swatting jets out of the air because he was bored of them not because they posed a threat. One of those heads looked in his direction... The fear he felt at that sent him running and with the passage of time as it was he didn’t know if he ran a week or a year or if it even mattered. When he was done running he couldn't see it anymore and that was all he wanted. That single event was the only thing that stood out to him since he had been here. There was no sun no moon, no day or night only grey and waiting. He always knew he was waiting it seemed like that was what this place was it was a place of waiting.
He remembered being in a car with Monique they were going someplace but he didn’t know where and then he was in the air and then he was here. Waiting.
He could have sworn that he heard his name, so faintly that he had to tell himself that all the time alone was causing him to hear things. Then he heard something else this wasn't faint it was very real he jumped up onto his feet and began to look around, off to his right well past the stones he saw it. it was still so far away that it was just a hazy outline. a gigantic two headed hazy outline and he saw smaller shapes little grey blurs in the air between he and it. they were getting bigger and more distinct as they got closer. he knew they were heading straight towards him. how could they know where he was? how could anything here? It isn’t like there is anything to leave a footprint on. He didn’t have a smell did he? did he stink? had he gotten really damn funky smelling without noticing it? he thought about running and decided that no matter how fast he ran he couldn’t go faster than those little flying things. he heard it again, his name was it the giant thing over there? no it couldn't be he could recognise the name he didn’t know where from other than from a far distant memory. As he heard it though he felt something. he didn’t know how or what but he felt some kind of power and a need to go somewhere and it wasn't here. they were on him now, these formless bruise colored masses with something similar to wings were swarming around him hands that were not hands grabbed out at him and when they touched him they burned and sent the same burning area numb. he was starting to slide down against the rock when he heard his name a third time. This time some part of him just said OK and agreed to go with who or whatever was calling. As soon as the consent was given it happened. The air in front of him just split open a ragged hole was shredded into reality inches from him and the best part in his opinion was that he didn’t even have to climb in because he wouldn’t have been able to, he was just kind of sucked in. One moment he was down on one knee leaning against a rock and the second he was in a room it seemed familiar to him but he couldn't place it exactly. The blurred forms that were grabbing at him must have been grabbed when he was they were still with him and they were freaking out. They still seemed focused on him but there was a frantic need to get away from wherever they currently were as well. What ever it was that had come to him when he heard his name being called had left something with him. Remi felt strong he grabbed the nearest arm that was pulling at him and flung it across the room. He could tell now that there were four others aside from the one he had just thrown. They seemed to have calmed down some and were moving less spastic but still coming at him. they were all bunched in together he swung out at one and tried to drive it into the others to knock them to the side but this wasn’t a superhero movie and they kinda wobbled in the air and sprang forward at him as when they realized that he was going to try and fight back. They were all around him now and the one he had thrown was back as well. Arms wrapped around him from every side. He struggled kicked about swung his arms but it didn’t do him any good. he heard a sound like massive amounts of rushing water above his head and he could see something that looked like a whirlpool the size of one of those frisbee’s that someone would use to play catch with their dog. It was getting larger and louder the grabbers stopped moving around and just stayed still if they did anything at all they just tightened their grip. He wasn't moving unless they decided he was. but that didn't stop him from putting up as much of a fight as he could. it was at that point he noticed in one corner of the room there was someone kneeling on the floor.
“Calm down. I’m going to stop them. Just try not to move.”
As hard as it was to deny the current level of panic he was dealing with Remi managed to calm down some, calm down wasn’t really the right way to put it, he was anything but calm but he had stopped fighting around. He looked up at the whirlpool that was above him it was unbelievably loud and there was nothing he could do about it. the thing was big enough for him to fit inside of now but not his attackers. what ever it was he figured it must be meant to take him back to wherever he was before he got here. There was a flicker of greenish light and just before the place where there should have been a face on each of the grabbers appeared a sickly green flame no larger than what one would expect to see on a tea candle. Each or the grabbers stopped trying to hold on and for a second it almost felt like they were letting go all together. Then all in the same instant Remi was on the other side of the room next to the person sitting on the floor and he somehow felt trapped. The sound of the rushing water was gone and the grabbers where nowhere to be found. He looked around and saw that he was standing in the center of some kind of circle that had been drawn on the ground. it reminded him of something he vaguely remembered seeing his mother play with when he was very young. After a few seconds passed the person sitting on the floor next to him stood up with a massive smile on his face. It had been so long since he had seen his brothers face he had almost forgotten what it looked like.
After taking an extra second to make sure the binding was secure on the... blurry winged angry things, and that his house wasn’t open to another assault Danny got up onto his feet and turned to see his brother. He couldn’t hide his smile if he wanted to. He had come. he didn’t know how worried he was that he might not accept the invitation until he felt how relieved he was seeing him here now. As he stood there smiling like an idiot Remi reached out to touch him and sent a blast of greenish ripples the same color as the flames he had used on the grabby things spiraling out around the walls of the circle where he had touched it. When he saw that he was trapped Remi began to panic as he did he became harder for Danny to see until he vanished completely from sight.
“Calm down, it’s not a trap. You are safe; the circle is there so that when I sucked those other things away you didn’t go with them.”
As he spoke it aloud Danny also sent the same message mentally still not sure if Remi could communicate the same way that Monique had. One of the two must have worked he thought as he felt he brother’s ghost calm down and settle into a pattern of energy that he could see. Danny reached out with his hand and placed it on the wall of energy and shattered it. there was a flash of the greenish light and the power that had sustained it devoured itself.
There were a few tense moments where neither of them knew exactly where to start. How many times does one start a conversation with someone who has been dead a few years? Danny thought to himself, so far two. He replied to his own question. Remi just stood there staring at him like he was waiting for something. Finally Danny decided to start with the basics.
“Can you talk to me?”
He asked out loud, he did not use his mind because he wanted to keep things sorted out so he knew what the spirit could and couldn't do. A second passed after he asked the question and he saw his brother’s mouth start to move. He was speaking but nothing was coming out. His blank stare must have given Remi a clue that he couldn't hear him because he watched his brother try again this time with hand gestures, Danny still couldn’t hear him and this time the ghost began to get agitated and as he did he began to vanish from sight.
“Hold on man hold on. Just calm down. I don’t know if you can tell or not when you do it but when you get mad your energy changes and I can’t see you anymore. Its OK just focus on what you want to say in your head I can pick it up from there.”
Remi paused thought to himself for a second and nodded his head. Danny stayed in his mind which was much different than when he did the same thing to the mind of a living breathing person. It was hard for him to define for himself it was just different.
“OK so can you hear me or whatever?”
Danny nodded his head and asked his brother.
“OK I can hear your thoughts when I am focused on it. can you hear me when I speak out loud or do I have to use my thoughts?”
“I can hear you when you talk.”
“Great now we are getting somewhere, I’m not sure where that is but I know we are getting there.”
“You’re a nerd.”
“Yeah? well you’re dead... do you remember what happened?”
“I remember being in a car with Monique and then I was... wherever I just was before you called me here.”
Now that he was here in the land of the living he found that his mind was clearing even though he didn’t ever notice that it was foggy. The full weight of the fact that he was dead finally settled on him and he was finding that he couldn't bear it. He felt like he should be hyperventilating or something he felt panic and helplessness then he thought about where he had been again and the giant two headed thing that had apparently followed him and the grabby things that it had sent after him.
“Danny I know I’m dead I understand that part but... but that place where I was, was that hell? Was I bad in life?... bad enough to go to hell?”
“No man no it isn’t anything like that. From everything that I’ve been able to find out about it, where you were was nowhere. you weren't really religious or anything so you kinda just hung around and ended up in a big spiritual catch all. You know like limbo.”
“When we are done here do I have to go back?”
“Umm see that’s part of why I have you here. Let me explain some things.”
Danny took the next hour to explain more or less how the last few years had gone, minus the mail order drugs from Mexico and the argument with the Arch Angel and the blowing up slash immolation of the dog.
“So that is kinda where everything stands right now. I mean I know I can do it. the fact that you are here with me now proves that it can be done. It’s just that before I can really get to into it I need to know that you want me too. It would be pointless to spend all this time working on it just so that when it comes time to actually do the do, you reject it and its all for nothing.”
Remi stood there thinking about everything he had just heard. Resurrected? That’s insane he thought to himself. People can’t just resurrect people, can they? Then he figured that his next line of reason would be that ghosts aren't real and decided that he will except the reality of ghosts for the time being. It seemed like there was a natural progression of things and that in the end you were done and wasn't he at the end now?
Then the reality of it hit him. He had seen where he ended up and actually had a chance to pick a different way if he wanted and as he thought about what fate had for him he decided that he had been screwed. Giant two headed beastly thing? that was what he gets in the end? no thank you screw the natural progression of things if there was another way to do it then that was what he was going for. He turned and looked at his brother.
“Don’t let me go back there.”
That was what Danny was hoping to hear. Soon after Danny was contacted by Algie with the address of the building that he had found a car came and picked him up and they went to check it out. It was perfect Danny decided that as they pulled up to the gates but didn’t say anything until they had taken a tour of the place and he could try and pretend he was shrewd and had thought about it in great detail. He wasn't sure how he knew this was the place but there was no doubt in his mind. The following day crews of workers came out and started cleaning the place out in a week the top floor was spotless and he had all of his stuff moved here from his house. It looked silly having everything he owned in a series of stacks and piles in the corner of one of the massive rooms in the north east corner of the building. After his stuff was moved he sat down with Volnam and planed out workshops a meditation room a gym and guest rooms. He found that Volnam actually had a lot to say about the placement of things apparently magical energy or demons or both of them actually subscribed to the whole Feng shui thing which Volnam turned into a series of lessons and the education continued. Energy flows just like wind or water its just less dense but the more freely it flowed the easier it was to gather and put to use. An open field was simple because it was just there but trying to preform something that would be simple in the open would take more effort in the woods because the trees are randomly thrown about and break up the flow of everything. He later found out that groups like druids in ancient Brittan had kind of stumbled onto it and that was why they had sacred groves that they tended. They were attempting to worship and shape things to improve their ability to gather energy for whatever basic forms of arcane channeling they had at the time. To bad they didn’t have Volnam there to help them out when the Romans showed up, that would have been a whole different ball game.
The first two floors were set up so that they broke up energy and made it very hard to do anything with from any of the four directions so if he was coming in from the north east south or west it was so disruptive that even someone who had no clue about magic or anything else would have a headache in a few minutes. Once someone made it into the core of the building much closer to the center things changed all the random broken up energy began to be channeled into this portion of the building in the final few hallways then they were directed up through a series of Silver coated ducts. The second floor was set up the same way only not as severely instead of causing a headache it was only off putting Volnam explained that to most it would only seem at the most haunted which with Renault floating about it actually was so there wasn’t much odd about that when he thought about it. Again once you reached the rooms and hallways closest to the center of the building everything was channeled upwards. because of the first floors set up the closer someone got to the center of the second floor the calmer they would feel their thoughts would be sharper and more crisp ideas would flow, tension and stress would melt away. The third floor would not be set up to do anything but allow any of the random energy to make its way into the center to meet with the rest of it flowing upwards to the fourth floor. The third floor had guest rooms and a great room to entertain guests, which Danny thought was an odd idea coming from a demon. the third floor was also where any previous knowledge of wards and shields doubled and tripled. Since this floor was going to handle the majority of the regular human traffic it had to have areas where all the power that would be used in the building didn’t destroy any of the modern day appliances like the Television or a Refrigerator. People also liked things like cell phones too. they decided not to completely seal any room off because once in place the wards would seal Danny off from his power if he was in any of the protected rooms and Volnam just wouldn’t be able to enter at all. By the time they had finished off the layout for the third floor there was a room with a hot tub in one corner of the floor it also was going to house a few video arcade style games and house the TV a wet bar and a few couches.
The fourth floor was the business floor of the building. It would have a dedicated room for meditation and serious incantations, the kind of stuff that can kill someone if they are interrupted in the middle of. There would be a more traditional workshop for the more physical applications of his studies something similar to what you would find Merlin working in if he was also a Harley mechanic. Danny’s own bedroom would be located on this floor. An observatory would be added for star gazing because that was in fact something that he would need to learn if only for the spell to resurrect Renault. There would be a room that would be turned into a library even though he didn’t actually have any books yet. None on magic anyways, it wasn’t something you could go pick up at the mall, regardless of what the local new age religion book store would have you think. He was also sure that soon he would have half of the library filled up with his own notebooks. Volnam was having him attempt to soak up so much on a daily basis that he had started to buy those little black and white covered composition notebooks in bulk. Almost one half of the fourth floor was also planned to be left empty so that as he needed something new he had place to add it. Danny shook himself out of his reverie and got up off of his knees and went back into the hallway. He had a nagging feeling that someone was looking for him and the more he practiced the more he found that those nagging feelings were true although if it wasn’t nagging enough and he actually acted on it, it was almost always wrong so he had to wait till it was pretty annoying before he checked on them. Everything was coming along at breakneck speeds. Walls going up things being moved and removed as their proper places were prepared for them. He made his way down the hallway and actually walked through his brother. It felt like a frigid blast of air and it shocked him into the now completely. The air was even cold down into his lungs which made him wonder if he actually just breathed his brother... kinda gross. Renault stopped and stared at him.
“Were you looking for me?”
“Yes, a car just pulled in downstairs its that Algie guy and his assistant and some other girl that I don’t recognize.”
“Other girl? ... I don’t remember him saying anything about bringing anyone else here.”
“Well whoever she is she’s a stacked blond that looks like she had his assistant do her shopping for her... hey man have you uhh had a chance to work on it yet?”
Work on it yet? Danny thought about it for a minute then wanted to kick himself. On two different occasions there had been strange incidents with Renault where if felt to him like something was trying to pull him back to the other place. Danny had said that he would look into a way to bind him here so that it would stop. So far on both occasions his brother had managed to get out of the area and that seemed to stop it. Danny had worked out an idea for something but he hadn’t done it yet. There had been so much going on the last few weeks that he hadn’t gotten down to actually turning the idea into a working tool.
“I know what I need to do and how, I just need to work out the wording for the spell with Volnam. I will get to it... Now I’m going to get started on the physical part of it now.”
Danny could see his brother ease a little as he told him.
“I’m going to go see about Algie and his guest and get Volnam on the wording now.”
As he continued down the hall he sent out a mental call for Volnam it was like the mental equivalent to shouting for someone in a back bedroom from the living room only no one would hear it but another telepathy that was actually open and listening for it. Volnam was always listening for everything. It made getting things done a lot easier once Danny had developed to the point where he didn’t need to have line of sight to communicate with someone now he just needed to work on his range. He was still the equivalent to one of those cheap FM radios that you had as a kid that only got whatever one station that was broadcasting from next door to the house and if there wasn’t one then it got really clear static.
“What? I’m busy directing the slaves on the first floor. ”What? How? You can’t even let them see you? eh never mind I need to know how to word an enchantment to bind Renault’s soul to a amulet so that whatever it is that wants him back can’t have him... They aren’t slaves, they get paid and they can leave whenever they want.”
“Not until they are done they can’t”
“Whatever it doesn’t matter quit playing inside the workers heads and work out what I need to put on the amulet... ohh and what should I make it out of? Gold’s always best right?”
“Except for when silver is or bone or wood or stone or...”
“You are more annoying than I am you know that?”
“Nothing is more annoying than you are.”
“Meh whatever I have to get out and meet with Algie he brought a stranger with him this
“It is not a stranger.”
“You know her you will see.”
As they finished Danny had left the stairwell that he used to get to the first floor and was getting to the main entrance. When he tried he could just faintly feel their minds as the approached the door. The workers had already finished this side of the building so the doors were closed. Danny could already feel the queasiness building in the pit of his stomach from the layout of this part of the floor. He would get used to it eventually but for now it was still new. He stood in the hallway and waited for Algie to knock. After a few more seconds he did and Danny had the door open in the middle of the second knock.
“Good mourn.. uhh”
He leaned out and looked up and the sky. He hadn't been out in a while and in this place if you weren’t near a window you didn't know what it was like outside.
“Good afternoon.” He finished smiling.
“I see you have brought a guest Algie who might this...”
Danny’s jaw almost slammed into the ground as he saw Lily standing behind the Assistant looking rather shy and uncomfortable. She was looking at him until she saw that he was looking at her at which point she began to look down at her shoes. he kinda lost track of himself for a moment remembering the last time he had seen her as she was taken off to a doctors office somewhere in Algie’s building.
“Lily, you look... well... They took good care of you?”
She looked way better than well, WAY better. but as he started to notice how much better he caught himself.
“Come inside, please. Let’s head upstairs you don’t want to be down here for very long.”
Before they could start to ask why he led them up the stairs he had just come down and up to the third floor. By the time they reached it Algie had made more than one comment on his health and Danny trying to put him back where he had met him. Danny and the assistant both laughed and Lily had a blank look on her face. When they explained she looked miserable she had been the one that had broken Danny’s arm and was part of the reason he ended up there and the following lawsuit was why she was now unemployed, she thought about it then her mind followed along the events of the day that had seen her fired and to coming home to her boyfriend...
As they exited the stairs Danny could feel sadness in the air he turned to see the look on Lily’s face, she looked miserable. He knew that he couldn’t just jump into her mind and start talking to her it might kill her. So he did something else, one of the things he had thought out on his own but hadn't had someone to practice it on.
“Lily if you don’t mind. Can I see your hand for a minute?”
as he asked he reached out his hand for hers. He initial response was to jerk her hand back from him. she flinched as she did. She realized it too and was embarrassed.
“Wow.. heh don’t I look like the beaten puppy?”
She made a nervous laugh and gave her hand to Danny.
“What are you going to do?”
As soon as she asked she felt something, she couldn't put her finger on it exactly. She felt warm, but not warm like if she was wrapped up in a blanket. The emotional warm where you are with your family at a thanksgiving dinner and everything was great and you were thankful for everyone that was there. With the warmth there came something else. Joy. The pure joy that a child gets when they are out in a freshly mowed field and the sun is bright and warm and they are spinning with their arms outstretched, spinning until they get so dizzy that they can do nothing but fall down laughing. It was only a split second and then Danny removed his hand from hers. She was smiling from ear to ear the term grinning like an idiot fit perfectly and she felt like a dork because she couldn't stop. She finally laughed out loud at herself.
“Mr. Lenoir... I don’t understand what you did but it was... amazing.”
Algie’s assistant had a small smile on her face too. As he looked over to Algie, Danny saw that he was smiling too.
“hmm... now that was interesting. I hadn’t ever tried it before. Lily was the first time but I was sure it would only affect the person I was touching. You two felt it too?”
“No Danny we didn’t well at least I didn’t I only had to watch Lily’s face. To see her go from whatever sad corner in her mind she was visiting to this look of pure joy was enough to warm anyone up a little.”
As he talked his assistant just shook her head in agreement. Lily looked to Danny and simply said thank you. She was still grinning.
“Egghh waste. the little time you do not spend training with me you spend practicing that? You are going to die when we finally send you into the Abyss for the first time. Well you will die feeling warm and happy as they eat your entrails while using their magic to make sure you are alive for the feat. Humans... how did you figure out something as outstanding as biological warfare and still have any that waste their time on ... that? I feel polluted”
Volnam made sure to send a healthy wave of disgust and disdain and then shut up. Apparently content to go back to handling the mental prodding of the workers on the south side of the second floor.
“Here come this way.”
Danny said clearing his throat. He led them off to the hot tub slash pool room that currently was only the room with a couch in one corner. As they entered he saw that his brother was haunting one corner looking out a window.
“Volnam did you figure out the incantation for the amulet? Wait you are still with the workers lemme rephrase that. VOLNAM FINNISH THE DAMN INCANTATION!” “That was cute. I don’t think that I will do it back. You can’t entertain guests if you are unconscious on the floor.” “You really think that it would be that easy now? You don't think I can take a little shouting and maybe do something back in return yet?”
“So far not and remain conscious.Find out why he has brought you that blond plaything. Regardless here this is what you want. it will create a bond similar to that which exists between your soul and your body only it will be between him and the amulet, you will need something of his inside the trinket.”
As he explained it he also just kind of slipped the incantation and the inscription into Danny’s mind. That was a trick he still had not learned. He could communicate he could send images and feelings but he could slip in secret messages at the same time. Soon he thought to himself very soon. This time he hadn’t gotten lost in thought and the exchange didn’t take his attention away from his guests. Both the ladies had taken seats on the couch and Algie was standing near Renault's current haunt. When he noticed that Danny was looking his way as said.
“There must be a draft or something over here its much cooler. it feels nice after the stairs.”
After he had said it. He brought his hands up and started patting his arms as if he was getting much colder. He was, once he had said it Renault thought it would be a fun thing to go stand with his shoulder inside Algie’s arm.
“Don’t man if you give him another stroke or something you’ll probably kill him. I met in him the hospital and I don't think that was his first time in.”
“fine fine don't get all upset. I'm just screwing with him. Hey wanna see another neat trick with the cold thing. watch this... ah never mind they are both wearing suit jackets we wouldn't be able to see anything.”
He had started to move over towards the couch until he made his discovery and then with slumped shoulders he slowly began to rise up through the sealing to the fourth floor.
“Hey I know everything I need to make the necklace to keep you from getting ghostjacked I just need to get something of yours to make it work. I’m sure I have something in a box around here somewhere. Once I’m done with them I will pick up some gold and we can get started on it.”
“We? what am I gonna do?”
“Fine whatever, I...”
“Huh?.. That is strange. It’s gone now. The air got much colder then it kinda just stopped and now its the same temperature as the rest of the room.”
Algie said as he looked around the room with a slightly bewildered look on his face.
“Really? I haven’t noticed anything. You must have found me a haunted place Algie. Can’t say I'm complaining though so far everything is working out great. The workers are moving at break neck speed. My partner is pleased too which is something all by its self.”
Danny walked over and leaned against the wall next to the window facing the couch where the ladies were sitting.
“So what can I do for you today, we are kinda busy around here at the moment.”
Danny was making a point of looking around the bare room as he spoke.
“Lots of stuff and lots of space to fill up with it you know?”
“Yes busy, that’s what we were thinking. Well I was thinking. The ladies here kinda just got caught up in a spur of the moment idea and your phones haven't been installed here yet.”
Algie walked over and stood in front of the warlock and began to speak a little quieter as he did. when he noticed him walking up to him Danny got up off the wall and began to seem a little more businesslike in his demeanor.
“Well Danny you see, it’s about Ms. Laurel she-”
“That’s her last name? Huh I would have thought that I would have picked that up over the years, we were working together for a while you know?”
“Yes I'm sure you did but then do you know the name of the janitor at the call center?”
“I uhh no I guess I don't.”
“People usually only tend to get as much information as they need. But as I was saying. She currently doesn't have any form of gainful employment she does know a great deal about finance and running an office. I was thinking about putting her on the payroll and giving her to you as an assistant. She could handle everything that you can’t or don't have time for while you pursue your studies.”
Danny’s eyebrows knit together for a few seconds as he thought over the idea of having an assistant that wasn’t an alcoholic midget demon. He could feel Volnam’s mind going over it with him and as he could tell the demon was about to say no he beat him to it.
“Yeah that would be cool. That would be really cool. Does she have stuff or what?”
“Excuse me, stuff?”
“Well I mean she would have to live here to keep up with how everything goes around here. She doesn't have a place to stay does she? I mean was it her apartment or that pricks?”
“I believe it was in his name and she was making the payments every month.”
“So does she want to?”
“I don't know yet I haven't asked her. I figured that there was no point in getting her hopes up if you thought it was a bad idea in the first place.”
“Well great now you have my hopes all up and she might still say no.”
“Really? Your hopes are up now?”
“Yeah man I hate doing laundry and Volnam runs around naked most of the time. In his opinion if it doesn't serve some function like armor then it’s a waste of time. He’d probably burn all my stuff if I told him to do it.”
“So you are looking at Ms. Laurel as something like a maid?”
“Well a personal aid they handle everything right? Doesn’t your staff of suited chicks take care of your laundry?”
“I suppose they do pick up the dry cleaning.”
“OK that works I can start sending my stuff out to be dry cleaned. That will work we don't have a washer and dryer set up right now anyways.”
Danny leaned around Algie and looked over towards the women who were making quiet conversation on the couch.
“Hey Lily, The credit union canned you after I sued em right?”
“Err uh yes.”
Danny had caught her off guard with the topic and he could tell as she responded.
“OK well I'm kinda in the middle of a lot of stuff right now and I need some help. How does the tittle executive personal assistant sound to you?”