For Disclaimers: See Part One
Feedback: As always, I'd love to hear what you think. All comments can be sent to Terias_McKlay@hotmail.com
**Author's Note: My spell check and I got into a bit of a brawl over some of the words over the course of the story. I couldn't understand what was going on until I pulled my head out of my rear end and I realized I was writing 'Canadian' style English while my spell checker was set to 'U.S.' English. So, if you see any words that look slightly awry it's because I decided to stick to the Canuck standard just 'cause I can. :P**
Lex awoke with a grunt as her head bumped into the wall of the mine. The demon was still carrying her but somewhere in the course of her blackout he'd switched from dragging her to an over the shoulder carry.
She and Megan were now trapped within the old tunnels that had been carved out by some long forgotten prospector. Lex opened her good eye and ended up staring straight into the face of the very frightened blonde. Her green eyes focused everywhere except on Lexina.
The Hunter reached out a hand and touched the girl's arm in reassurance, silently promising that she'd get them out of their predicament. Lex put a finger to her lips waiting for Megan's nod of understanding. The brunette counted down from three on her fingers while she quietly chanted the spell the demon had interrupted.
"Blinding light come to me,
Protect me from mine enemy,
Darkness falling black as night,
Be now banished from my sight."
Lex swung her arm around and brought her hand directly in front of the demon's eyes.
"Luminae!" The demon screamed in outrage as the blast of light seared his sensitive eyes. Lex pulled her second knife from the sheath on her arm and shoved it deep into the demon's throat. The Laox dropped both girls though not without a strike to their backs as they fell.
Lex was the first to recover and got up putting a hand over her stomach wound. The blinded demon thrashed madly and Lex took her opportunity to kick it in the back.
The Hunter created another light and quickly chanted a spell to imbue it with a special purpose.
"Follow that," she said letting the light drop from her hands. It floated in front of the blonde then dashed behind her heading toward the mouth of the mine. Lex pulled her sais from her boots, prepared to do whatever it took to avenge her Dhaskalos and put a stop to the demon's killing spree.
"I can't just leave you here," Megan argued picking up a baseball-sized rock and whipping it at the demon where it bounced harmlessly of its armour like skin.
Great, Black Belt Barbie with some disturbing sense of heroism. Why can't she just run screaming into the night like a good little victim?
"I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. Get out of here," said giving the girl a shove in the right direction. The Laox stumbled and shook his head, the damage to his eyes already healing. The spell had only been meant as a distraction and she was surprised the effects had lasted this long.
Once his eyes were functional again the Hunter would be at a severe disadvantage here in the dark depths of the mine. If she was going to take Azriel out it had to be now.
She took a running jump at the demon drop-kicking him in the head forcing him to collide with the mine wall. Everything around her shook dangerously with the impact and a chunk of dirt fell from the ceiling. The Hunter jumped and hook kicked the demon in the head pushing him further into the mine.
He stumbled and grabbed onto a support beam to steady himself. The old wood groaned and gave way with a snap depositing the demon on his butt. The section of the mine supported by the beam collapsed and Lex hopped back to avoid being buried. The teen looked up to see the stars twinkling at her and the Hunter's brow wrinkled in confusion.
This is a damn shallow mine.
"Lexina are you okay?" Megan asked from her place about five meters away. Her face was illuminated slightly by the mage light and Lex could see her searching the shadows frantically.
"Yeah, I'm alright," Lex coughed a little at the dust and looked over at the rubble. She squinted trying to see if there was anything left of the Laox.
I must be punch drunk, I could swear I just saw that pile move. The slight illumination of the stars allowed Lex to verify the movement as it became more violent.
"Fuck me." The Laox burst from beneath the rocks showering the Hunter with debris. Somewhere behind her Lex heard Megan squeak as the demon stepped forward.
This can't be happening, I saw him buried under tons of rock.
"What's the matter Hunter, you look like you've never met a real demon before."
"Lexina, the other beams can't take the extra weight, they're starting to crack." The Hunter looked around seeing the truth in the blonde's words. Even now pieces of dirt were falling and Megan was preparing to bolt.
"C'mon we have to get out of here!" The blonde yelled as she was nearly clobbered by a large rock that had dislodged from the ceiling. Lex weighed her options, the demon likely wasn't the mastermind behind the attack.
He obviously wasn't stupid but neither was she. The books said Laox tended to stay in the central and South Americas preferring the warmer climate. They only came this far north when there was a profit to be made.
This thing's employer was still out there and as much as she wanted vengeance on this demon her real objective was his boss. Lex replaced her sais and ran at the other girl grabbing her arm and pulling her along as she ran. Lexina could hear the heavy steps of the demon behind them and Lex looked back to see the shaft collapsing in on itself.
This is so not good.
"He's going to bring the whole thing down on her heads!" Lex screamed as they dodged to avoid debris. The pair sprinted through the tunnels following the mage light to avoid taking bad turns.
The entrance to the mine appeared and Lex sped up, the shorter girl matching her stride. The dark night greeted them as they dashed into the open the mine collapsing behind them.
"Look out!" Megan screamed as she tackled Lex pushing her out of the way of a tree that had snapped in the collapse. The large elm threatened to crush the girl and Megan barely charged her in time to avoid a messy and disturbingly squishy death.
The darkness concealed the steep hill behind them and Lex yelped in surprise as she rolled down head over feet. She heard the grunt behind her as Megan followed breaking small branches and loosening rocks as she went.
Lex dug her heels in to stop herself letting out a startled 'whoa' when the blonde knocked into her and they continued their tumble downhill sliding easily along the fallen leaves.
"Aren't the bluffs somewhere near here?" The blonde asked nervously she thought she'd recognized the terrain from climbing with Mark. She didn't have time to figure it out though as they slid uncontrolled on the loose leaves and began picking up speed. Lexina grabbed onto the reporter's hand so she wouldn't lose the girl as they slid and tried to slow them both down by crashing into saplings. She took the brunt of most of the impacts but she heard a pained grunt from Megan more than once.
"I think I see those cliffs you were talking about!" Lex yelled as the trees cleared and the far end of the valley became visible.
"Shit!" Both girls screamed as they shot out their free arms searching for something to grab onto. It was the blonde's hand that found purchase on a protruding rock and Lex felt her stomach wound tear as she slid past the blonde and over the edge. The other girl's grip kept her from falling and Lex snapped to a halt letting out a yelp as her wound ripped further. Breathing deeply the Hunter forced herself to stay as still as possible trying not to put more strain on Megan.
"Well, that was pleasant," she muttered checking the stone face for something to grab.
"Sorry," the blonde apologized as she wedged her feet into a crevice. "I didn't know we were so close to the valley."
"That's alright, neither did I," Lex answered as she struggled to find her own footholds. She looked down to see the ground at least 50 meters below them. Lex cringed, heights weren't something she did well and the ground didn't look terribly forgiving.
"You're starting to slip." Megan said. Her grip on Lexina and the rock were tenuous at best and her sweat slick palms were fast becoming a problem. Not to mention the weight. She was strong from all the climbing but taking on someone else's weight wasn't something she could do for long.
"We have to get somewhere that isn't so steep Megan."
"Can you find something to hold onto so I can feel around?" The
"Yeah, we have to hurry. That demon might not be dead and I'm in no condition to fight it off."
"Okay, you ready?"
"Go for it," Lex immediately dug her fingers into a small crack once the blonde let go. She could already feel her shoulders begin to burn as she held her body weight by her hands.
"I found something you should be able to reach." Megan grabbed Lex's hand and guided it to a protruding ledge. The Hunter gladly traded her unstable finger-holds for it and used the extra elevation to gain a foothold.
"Think we can climb this?" The brunette asked sparing a quick glance toward the ground.
"Sure, I've done steeper with less to hold onto," Megan commented.
"A rock climber, I knew there was a reason I rescued you." Megan snorted in response and began to climb her way up making short work of the steep hill. It didn't take her long to reach the tree line where the ground became less steep and she turned back to Lex and smiled.
"C'mon Lexina," she encouraged holding her hand out. Lex let out a colourful curse but began the climb up wincing as she felt dirt get into her wounds.
"For the record…"
"I hate heights."
"There's ice cream and puppy dogs in it for you if you keep climbing," the blond said wiggling her fingers in a 'come here' motion. Lex gave a shake of her dark locks and pushed onward and upward. As she reached the tree line Megan grabbed her by the collar of her coat and pulled her to the downed tree she was sitting on.
"What if I'd been a lactose intolerant puppy hater?" The Shadow Hunter asked.
"I would've got you some soy milk and a referral to a psychiatrist. I mean, who the hell doesn't like puppies?"
"You say it like it's a bad thing," Megan said. Lex shook her head and gave a bit of a chuckle.
"C'mon, it's a long way to the top."
"That took considerably more time getting up than getting down," Lex huffed an hour later as she and Megan crested the hill. They'd had to stop frequently on the way up so Lex could rest. Her stomach had stopped bleeding but her eye still dripped blood from under Megan's makeshift patch.
The Hunter collapsed to the ground and sucked in a breath trying to regulate her air intake. Megan dropped down next to her sitting on her knees and examining Lex's prone form.
"You need to go to the hospital," she lifted up the eye patch she'd made from torn strips of her shirt and took a closer look at Lex's eye. The knife had cut deep into the retina, Megan was no doctor but she doubted Lex would ever see out of it again.
The rest of her was in no better shape, dried blood and dirt was caked on her nose and stomach and the climb hadn't helped her condition any. Megan had a few scratches from collisions with trees but they didn't really compare to Lex's damage. The blonde stood and hauled Lex to her feet.
"You good?" The blonde asked.
"Yeah, I just want to go home and get cleaned up," Lex said looking down at her filthy coat. It would be salvageable, thankfully, but not without a little elbow grease. She glanced over at what had once been the mine. The roof had collapsed in on itself and somewhere beneath the tons of rock her enemy lay.
Or not, she thought as she caught a glimpse of the demon's half-buried form. Its head and arms moved beneath the rubble startling both Lex and Megan.
Why won't that thing just die?
"It's still alive?" The blonde asked as she grabbed Lex's shoulder and walked with her toward the monster.
"Looks like," Lex approached the demon warily, there was no telling how trapped or weak it was. They'd both be in trouble if the Laox was playing possum. Lex picked up a large rock not noticing Megan's eye widen at the sheer size of it, even as injured as she was the Hunter hardly noticed the weight. The demon's eyes fluttered open as Lex came toe to head of him and raised the rock overhead.
"It doesn't matter Hunter. My master will find the witch and have the book. The pain I put your Dhaskalos through pales in comparison to the torture he has in store for her." Lex let a humourless smile grace her lips.
"I'll keep that in mind while I'm kicking his ass." The brunette slammed the rock on the demon's head. Azriel's skull split with a satisfying crack that echoed through the forest and made Megan cringe. The blonde turned away from the corpse, shielding her eyes from the gory display.
"Do I want to ask what that was about?" She asked as she felt Lex take her arm and tug her away.
"I'm not even sure I know," Lex admitted as she turned Megan in the direction of the city.
"Well that's reassuring," Megan said as they began walking.
"Tell me about it."
"Hey look, a sword," Megan said with surprise as she pulled it from between the trees where it had been wedged. Lex smiled and took the weapon from her giving it a quick inspection. It had a scratch where the blade had glanced off the demon's armour but was otherwise undamaged.
"Thanks, I was wondering where this went," the Hunter said as she slipped it into its sheath.
"You're not like most other girls are you Lex?" Megan asked as they began walking again. One ice blue eye looked at her and a small smile crossed the brunette's face.
"You say it like it's a bad thing."
"Does it live?"
"It may be useful in the coming battle."
"Agreed." Scanning the men who encircled him he pointed to the pile of rubble under which a demon claw protruded from the fallen rock. "Dig."
The man beside him turned to face him. "She has power."
"Much, the events of the prophecy have been set in motion."
"The long winter will come to pass."
"Inconsequential, she is a single piece in an infinite puzzle."
"If she succeeds we will lose a servant."
"He is already lost, he serves no cause but his own."
"Then we will not interfere."
"No, we will allow the battle to proceed to its legitimate end."
"The book must be obtained."
"In time it will be."
"The demon is free."
"Come, there is much to prepare for."
Siobhan looked up as the shop bell rang.
"Megan, if you've come back to scold me on my door locking practices may I suggest you get a hobby?" The shopkeeper said as she walked out from the back room. She quirked an eyebrow when she couldn't see the blonde, who else would it be at this time of night?
"Megan?" The redhead closed her eyes and searched for the young woman's aura. "Well that's not right," she thought as she sensed two separate and distinctly male auras.
Bollocks, I should've known better than to ignore a precogs warnings.
"Whoever you are, show yourself," she stated injecting more confidence into her voice than she felt.
"Hello Siobhan." A dark haired man stepped out from behind a shelf of books. Two white streaks ran along his temples and Siobhan did a double take when she realized she knew who it was.
"What? What are you doing here Alec?" She asked.
"You're protecting them."
"Beg your pardon?" Siobhan looked at the man, one she'd known since prep school in England. He'd gone to the academy with Athena.
"Morrow and her little bitch. They have the book and I want it."
"All that time in the field has made you go mad Alec, I haven't the slightest idea…" She stopped mid sentence as she felt something cold and hard pressed against her temple.
"Ah, I see you've met my assistant Brian." Siobhan looked out of the corner of her eye at the man, boy really, who held the pistol to her head.
"Now, let me make things quite simple for you. You've put some sort of cloaking spell on the book and the girl, remove them both or I'll kill you and when the spell dissipates I'll find them anyway."
"Go to Hell Alec." The man's eyes darkened and he stalked toward her grabbing her by the back of the head.
"Listen to me you little Irish bitch, I didn't go through the trouble of sending that demon after Morrow just to have you stop me now."
"You did that? Alec how could you? I don't understand, why would you do something like that?" The redhead asked her confusion apparent. She'd known he was unstable when the Tribunal had released him of his duties but she hadn't expected him to begin killing people. Thought it made sense, she knew Athena had been instrumental in having him removed from his position.
"So she'd drop her end of the spell, of course I hadn't counted on her living through the experience but that's something easily rectified. Now I'm going to ask you once more, lift the cloak," Alec said as he motioned to Brian for the gun. The distraction allowed her to regain her sense and the shopkeep turned and aimed her hand at the boy's eyes.
"Luminae!" He screamed in pain as the light blinded him dropping the gun to the floor.
"Idiot," Alec said. As he reached for the weapon Siobhan grabbed the paperweight from the counter and slammed it into his head. She ran for the back door cursing as she hit an unseen wall and fell to the tile.
"You're not the only one who knows magic Siobhan," Alec said calmly. The redhead gritted her teeth as she tried to break the containment spell.
"There was a familiarity to the aura of the magic. It was you, you were the one behind that night of Hell," the redhead accused as she turned to look at her attacker.
"Ah yes, that, I had hoped the chaos spell would do a better job of flushing you all out. That little girl is more of a handful than I initially realized, she took it all on by herself without her Dhaskalos' help. And that little blonde friend of yours, she certainly didn't help matters. If her foresight hadn't kicked in you would've been removed from the equation months ago." He gave a short laugh.
"Not that she'll be much of an issue now, I'm sure my demon friend has already made short work of her," he said with a malicious smile.
"No…" Siobhan felt the anger begin to well up in her chest. "How could you Alec? She's barely more than a child." He shrugged.
"She was a little idealist. She would've been a lot more trouble to get rid of later."
"The Tribunal was right to terminate you. You and your entire family have allowed yourselves to be corrupted," Siobhan said.
"Yes well, isn't that unfortunate for you. I will have my vengeance. I will have Athena's life, Gideon's book and the Tribunal on its knees begging for mercy. They will all pay for what has been done to me an my family."
"Lexina will stop you." He laughed at her.
"I think you put too much stock in the poor girl. Once I've taken care of her Dhaskalos she'll be the next to die."
"Gods damn you Alec," the witch cursed, fire flaring in her eyes.
"I think, old friend, that you'll find the gods have very little to do with it." He raised the gun and fired.
Lex braced her legs and arms against the counter as Megan put her hands down on her nose.
"I've only done this once," she reminded the brunette giving her one last chance to back out. "And at the time I didn't particularly care how my face looked afterward."
"Well you know what they say, practice makes perfect." Lex patted Megan's leg in reassurance signalling for her to continue. "So, how'd you break your nose?" The Hunter asked trying to distract herself from what was about to happen.
"On my count… One…Two…" Megan twisted her wrists popping the cartilage back into place.
"Bloody hell! Doesn't anyone count to three anymore?" Lex questioned as she lightly ran a knuckle down her nose.
"I was climbing," Megan said in answer to Lex's earlier question. "Did it set properly?" Megan asked as she ducked down to get a better look.
"Feels like it. It's good enough anyway, so long as I don't look like Owen Wilson<' Lex said with a small smirk. "Where were you climbing?"
"The cliffs about 30 kilometres north of here. The rock wasn't as sturdy as I thought and a couple of my pegs came loose. I fell a good 10 meters before my safety line caught me and I slammed into the rock face."
"It was, damn near knocked myself unconscious. Speaking of pain how's your eye? I really think you should go to the hospital for that." Megan lifted up Lex's shirt to see her stomach, sticking her tongue out at the sight of the sand-infested cut. It was definitely deep enough to warrant stitches. "And you could stand to have a doctor look at that as well," the reporter said.
"I hate hospitals." Lex stated as she stripped off her shirt and tossed the bloody garment into the garbage. "There's some cloths in the linen closet and rubbing alcohol in the bathroom. Would you mind getting it for me?" Megan went to grab the cleaning supplies while Lex filled a bowl with hot water.
"Okay, what are we doing?" Megan asked as she walked back in the room. "Nice scar," she commented tapping Lex's exposed shoulder to indicate what she meant.
"Thanks. You soak the cloths, I'm going to try to get most of the sand out of these cuts and then we'll see what else needs to be done." Megan complied, but instead of allowing Lex to clean out the cut she pushed the girl's hand away.
"I've cleaned up enough of Tara's scraped knees and elbows to do this, lay down," the blonde said. Lex did as she was told the counter top feeling cold against her skin. Megan gently wiped at the cut, it reopened and began to bleed a little but that was as she'd expected.
"How you doing?" The reporter asked. A sharp intake of breath halted her ministrations and Megan looked up to see Lex white as a sheet. "Hey, you alright?"
"Yeah, fine just stings a little," Lex admitted with a sheepish grin.
"This from a girl who takes on an eight foot monster and has an amateur set her nose. Besides I'm almost done," Megan comforted.
"There, now hold still," Megan said as she grabbed the rubbing alcohol from the counter and uncapped it. "This is going to hurt," she warned before liberally dousing the wound with the disinfectant.
"Gahhh, son of a b…!" Megan clamped a hand over the Hunter's mouth silencing the girl. No sense in giving the neighbours a reason to call the cops. A small nod from the brunette indicated she was finished yelling and Megan took her hand away.
"Damn, that hurt," Lex cursed through clenched teeth.
"No, really? I thought you were screaming in pleasure," Megan said. Lex raised an eyebrow and Megan felt the blush on her cheeks when she realized how the comment had sounded. Lex held her stomach as she laughed silently nearly falling off the counter from the force of her hysterics. Megan cleared her throat and waited for the Hunter to get herself under control.
"Stitches," Lex said, still chuckling as she took one of the suture kits from the cupboard.
"That I don't know how to do," Megan stated with a shake of her head.
"S'okay, I can do it myself," Lex said ripping open the packet.
"You can what?" Megan asked her voice raised slightly higher then she'd intended.
"Sew it myself, hand me that mirror on the table."
"Lexina you're going to the hospital," Megan said firmly giving the younger girl her best 'stern adult' look.
"No I'm not," the Shadow Hunter stated. "Look, either you or I has to sew this up, everything stays in house, otherwise people start asking questions. That's just the way things are done."
"Lex…" The blonde shifted nervously from foot to foot.
"Can you sew?" The young warrior asked.
"Enough to get by in a pinch."
"Well consider this a pinch," Lex said as she held the suture kit out to the blonde who took it reluctantly.
"You're putting an awful lot of trust in me," Megan commented as she threaded the needle.
"If you're too uncomfortable I really can do it myself." Lex said staring up at the reporter and beginning to sit up.
"No," Megan laid a restraining hand on her shoulder. Lex lay back down and closed her eyes again.
"It's just, most people see me and seem to think I'm some dumb blonde," Megan admitted as she put the first stitch through. Lex's stomach muscles twitched but otherwise there was no reaction from the girl.
"Most people haven't been saved from a drop to their deaths by you. That type of thing tends to change opinions."
"That's true, I guess. So are you gonna explain what tonight was all about or do I have to guess?" The reporter asked as she continued to sew.
"What do you mean?" Lex asked. How much could the Hunter get away with not telling the blonde? Judging by the curious look in the intelligent green eyes Lex didn't think much.
"Well, I was checking out some weirdness in the woods. Not one of my shining moments by the way. Next thing I know I'm eight feet in the air being carried by the creature from the black lagoon," the blonde explained. "Care to fill in the blanks?"
"Um, you don't remember screaming and getting knocked out?"
"No," Megan said with a confused look in her eyes. She rubbed her cheek "although I was wondering where the bruise on my jaw came from, I thought maybe I'd hit a rock." The pair fell silent for a moment, Lex contemplating how much to tell the girl. "And that would enhance my bimbo image." Lex laughed at the comment.
Lying isn't going to help, she's already seen the demon and there's is no way to explain that other than as it is.
"That thing was called a Laox. It is… Was, a demon."
"Well yeah, that much I'd figured out for myself," Megan said with a snort. The Hunter raised an eyebrow at the statement.
She's even quicker than I guessed, this could be a problem.
"Bu…how…you knew?" She finally managed to spit out.
"I know the basics, I am a reporter for Christ's sake. People go missing and found days later completely bloodless with two puncture wounds. Police cover ups that keep people from knowing the crazy number of homeless people who are found dead with no cause," Megan said with a shake of her blonde head, still not believing how many things were actually covered up.
"I started hanging out at the magic shops around the city to see if I could find something to connect them. A lot of it was that new age crap but the one on Kingston…"
"And Bloore," Lex muttered, the 'Lucky Charm,' Siobhan's shop.
"Yeah," Megan gave her a knowing look smirking at the raven haired girl. "Anyway the owner showed me these weird books, at first I thought she was cracked but enough of the pieces started to fit to make me a believer. I've been researching demons, vampires and witchcraft pretty heavily for the past year or so."
"Oh I see," Lex said doing nothing of the sort. The blonde was turning out to be full of surprises. Megan tied off the thread and snipped it from the needle.
"All done, let me put some more disinfectant on it then I'll put a bandage on." Lex nodded in agreement bracing herself for the searing pain. Megan didn't disappoint her as the alcohol ran down her stomach and the Hunter kept a white-knuckle grip on the counter. "How was it?" Megan asked.
"Hardly felt a thing," Lex lied. Megan nodded seeing through the dismissive comment with ease. She strapped a thick layer of gauze to the brunette's stomach holding it there with medical tape.
"Alright Shadow Hunter, you're all done," she said with a pat to her new friend's shoulder.
"Thanks," Lex swung her legs off the counter and slid down careful not to disturb her stitches. She did a double take when she realized what Megan had called her. "Shadow Hunter?"
"Yeah, you are of the Thirteen aren't you? They who are fated to protect mankind from demons and so on?" The blonde asked, an eyebrow raised in question.
"Well…" Lex looked uncomfortable. "Yeah, but how do you…?"
"Know? Haven't you been listening? I've been researching demons, you can't really do that properly without researching their predators. Your kind comes up pretty high on the list," Megan said.
"My kind?" Lex asked dumbly still shocked to hear the girl talk so flippantly about her knowledge. When Athena had first come to her spouting basically the same speech Lex had thought the woman was either drunk, high or a schizo off her meds.
A close run in with a vampire and Athena's timely rescue had changed her mind damn quick. Lex had wondered more than once if Athena hadn't nudged the vampire to attack just to prove her point.
"Yeah, Shadow Hunters." Megan said looking at Lex as though she were slow in the head.
"Oh," Lex shook her head and went into the bathroom. "There's books on Hunters?" She asked her voice muffled by the taps as she turned the water on. She had tons of books on the Thirteen of course, she just hadn't realized it was available to any schmuck who went looking. That had the potential of becoming a serious problem.
"Lex you don't have to play dumb, we both know your Dhaskalos has a library of the supernatural world that would probably make Siobhan's look like a discount comic book store by comparison."
"It just worries me a little that you know so much," Lex admitted. "If it's all so easy to get a hold of what's to stop a vampire or a demon or any enemy of the Tribunal's from getting it?"
Lex pulled her hair from its ponytail and ducked her head under the tap. The water ran red down the drain testament to the large amount of blood in her hair. She heard Megan step up behind her and avoided the blonde's concerned stare as she wrapped a towel around her head.
"I wouldn't worry, from what I've seen Siobhan is the only one in the city with that kind of material."
That's true, Athena and I have checked every other shop here and nothing comes close.
"And it took me forever to actually get any of the books with genuine information on the Shadow Hunters. I still really only have is snippets from the demon books. Speaking of books, what book was the demon talking about?" The blonde asked as Lex towelled her hair. The brunette could still feel the ridge of scar tissue from where the demon had split open her scalp a couple of weeks ago.
"I don't know," the Hunter said honestly, tossing the towel into the tub and going into her room. She pulled a black tank top from her dresser slipping it on carefully. She sucked in a breath as the fabric caught on the medical tape. Gentle hands stilled her frustrated movements and pulled the shirt down for her.
"Careful, you'll pop the stitches," Megan chided as she motioned for Lex to sit on the bed. The blonde grabbed a brush from the nightstand and set to work brushing out the tangled locks.
"Thanks for the help," Lex said to the reporter. It was definitely nice having someone in the apartment to keep her company again.
I was almost tempted to go out and buy a volleyball.
"No problem," Megan continued to brush as she let ideas run through her head. "Could your Dhaskalos know what the demon wanted? After all he said she had it." Megan commented.
"It's possible. She could have bought the book on one of her trips not knowing it had been stolen. Maybe the Tribunal gave it to her. I'm not sure though, I mean I've been through the entire library and there was nothing that struck me as worth this much trouble. I'll ask Athena but she was doped up on painkillers the last time I called the hospital. She'll be useless until late tomorrow morning at least."
"What else can we do tonight?" Megan asked glancing at the clock. It was already two in the morning, surely Lexina couldn't be thinking of going out again. Her eyes were swollen and she looked ready to drop.
"Think, do some research."
"I don't suppose you know who sent that demon." Lex shook her head regretfully.
"Not a clue, I wasn't even positive he was working for someone until tonight. I guess that would be where I should start."
"Right, you got any food in this place? If we're going into research mode I need something to eat."
"We?" Lex asked. "No, there is no 'we' in 'I'. Go home Meg, this isn't your fight."
"First of all, I think nearly being eaten by this guy's demon qualifies this as my fight," the blonde said. "I have a tendency to take offence to that kind of thing. And two, whether you like it or not you don't stand a chance injured and alone. Somewhere along the course of researching your past and all the rest of this I developed a bit of an issue with watching you die."
She could easily have been planted as an assassin. Lex had almost trusted Brian and he'd betrayed her. The warrior wasn't sure if she was capable of learning to trust people again and quite frankly she wasn't sure she wanted to. The young Shadow Hunter turned and looked into the girl's eyes for the slightest trace of anything that would give her away as less than genuine. She found nothing.
I have no right to bring her into this. She's still an innocent, she deserves better than risking her life over my problems.
"I don't want you getting hurt," Lex said as she turned. The brush continued to stroke her hair gently taking out the knots. Megan pulled her hair into a loose braid grabbing anelastic from the dresser to tie it. "I may not be able to protect you."
Gods know I haven't been able to protect anyone else.
"All done," Megan said as she stood up from the bed, she patted the Hunter's shoulder as she stood up. "I can take care of myself and who knows, I'm not completely useless, maybe we can protect each other." Lex smiled.
I should tell her to get lost, for her own good if nothing else. But there's something there, a fire, I don't think she'd listen to me. She'll probably go off on her own and get herself into even more trouble, if I let her stick around maybe I can keep an eye on her.
"Alright," Lex stood and headed for the kitchen to clean up. "Someone's got to keep you out of trouble."
"Heh. Funny, I could say the same about you." Megan said following her. "You never answered whether or not you were hungry. Maybe I can cook something up," Megan said as she opened the fridge. Some fruit and sandwich meat were all she found. Lex smirked at the blonde and gave a little laugh.
"Don't bother checking, all we have in the cupboard is some stale chips and granola bars."
"Uh, I'm gonna run down to that 24 hour pizza place then. Any requests?"
"No anchovies, no pineapples," Lex said reaching for her wallet on the counter.
"My treat, I'll be back in a few minutes."
"Let me come with," Lex said suddenly. Wouldn't it be ironic if she'd rescued the girl from Azriel only so she could be eaten by a vampire a few hours later? The Hunter grabbed her dirty jacket from the table slipping it on with practiced ease. "Streets aren't safe at night."
"Don't I know it." Megan said with a smile as she held the door open for her friend. Lex cocked her head as she revisited their earlier conversation.
"And what did you mean about 'researching my past'?"
"Two large pizzas?" Lex whispered once Megan had given the order. "Do you intend to feed the Roman army?"
"I have a healthy appetite, I'm also fairly certain you're not one of those 'count the calories' types of girls. 'Sides we'll need snacks later," she reasoned as she paid the cashier.
"There's nothing," Lex said dejectedly as she tossed the book into the quickly growing discard pile.
"What do you mean?"
"The books, there's nothing in them on Azriel or who his employer might have been. With the right amount of money anyone with connections to the demon subculture could hire a Laox." Megan got up and made her way over to the Hunter putting her hands on the girl's shoulders.
"Lexina you've got to relax, you won't get any work done if you don't calm down a little okay?" A sullen nod from the Hunter was her only answer and Megan grimaced.
"Come on, there's bound to be something useful in the books and if not we'll got to Siobhan's and see what she can tell us."
"Alright. I'm sorry I'm PMSish, I'm just so frustrated. That thing nearly killed my Dhaskalos, and I can't even take satisfaction in its death because the guy who hired him is still out there waiting," Lex said with a frown.
"I know," Megan knelt next to the Hunter and wrapped her in a hug. Lexina tensed up for a second before giving in and relaxing into the embrace. "I promise we'll find him."
"I know we will, what worries me is that we won't find him in time. What if he hurts someone else or goes after Athena again?" The Hunter asked.
"We won't let that happen," Megan reassured tightening her grip on the brunette. Lexina sighed, how long had it been since she'd had a real hug? After her mother's death she'd refused most attempts at comfort from her Dhaskalos and friends choosing instead to pack away her depression and throw herself into her duties. During battle was the only time she could truly clear her mind and forget everything and she clung to those moments tightly.
It had been ages since someone had held her and tried to convince her everything would be alright. That the world could be more than death and blood and apocalypse. After all, that was her job, she was the one who had to stick around to comfort some nameless victim or other that she'd rescued.
I guess even Shadow Hunters need protectors, which is why we have a Dhaskalos, and why I'm going to find this murdering son of a bitch and eviscerate him before he can hurt anyone else.
And I bet that whoever hired Azriel was also the nutjob responsible for Athena's night of the pifflings.
Hey, wait a minute. The Shadow Hunter had a sudden realization.
Doesn't Megan look familiar?
Uh, yeah, we met her weeks ago remember?
I think it was longer ago than that. Doesn't she look a lot like…
"You're the girl I rescued with Siobhan on Hell night," Lex said suddenly.
"Huh? What the..? Where the Hell did that come from?" The blond asked. Megan did a double take as she pulled away from the younger girl. "That was you!" She exclaimed giving the Hunter a sharp slap on the shoulder.
"Ow, Jesus, are you nuts?" Lex rubbed her shoulder and looked at the green eyed girl.
"Sorry, it's just… I've been looking for you for months, I never even clued in that you were the 'her' that was there that night. Geeze, some days I wonder how I didn't get lost in the birth canal." Lex let out a cross between a snort and a laugh before turning serious.
"I think the man responsible for the demon also set up Hell night, if he's capable of that level of chaos…"
"Don't worry, we will find him," Megan said her tone firm but reassuring. "Why don't we get some sleep, start fresh in a few hours?"
"Alright, just a few hours though, I want to go to Siobhan's today. If this guy called a demon and managed to orchestrate Hell night magic has got to be involved somehow," Lex said. "Right now Irish is our best bet of using magic to find him. She may also know something about this book." Lex tapped her chin.
"I think I'm going to have a chat with her about Hunter/witch confidentiality as well," Lex said with a quirk of her eyebrow.
"Okay," Megan said with a laugh standing up offering her hand to Lexina. "I'll take the couch." Lex grabbed her hand and got to her feet.
"You sure? I can take the couch and you can have my bed." Lex would've offered Athena's bed but she hadn't been able to get the blood out of the sheets or the mattress.
"No, you'll have to curl up on the couch and that'll be bad for your stomach."
"Okay, it's what eight now? How's two sound?"
"Sounds good. Let me check your eye first though," the blonde said tugging the girl toward the kitchen.
"No 'but's', Lex. If you won't go to the hospital you at least have to let me keep an eye on it." Lex gave her a sideways look. "Ooh, sorry, bad choice of words."
"Indeed," the Hunter said with a sigh pulling off the makeshift patch that protected the gauze covered eye.
"You know, my sister's a nurse, if you let her…"
"But she could just take a quick..."
"Alright come into the kitchen then so I can take a better look." Lex complied flicking on the bright fluorescent light as she walked to the table. Megan gently touched around the cut, the swelling had gone down considerably.
If fact if I didn't know better I'd say this was already healing. Come to think of it I don't know better.
"Lex this amount of healing isn't natural, not in this short of a time." Megan said as she took the alcohol from underneath the sink grabbing the q-tips as well. She soaked the cotton end of one stick and blotted gently on the line that ran down the Hunter's face.
"I know," Lex said with a cryptic smile. Megan stuck out her tongue as she tried to think of a logical answer.
Or a magical one.
"So members of the Thirteen come equipped with a Dhaskalos, super strength, and accelerated healing?" She hazarded with a raise of her eyebrows.
"And, order with your credit card now and a predisposition to violence will be thrown in at no extra charge."
"Is that why you don't go to the hospital?" Megan asked.
"My predisposition to violence?"
"No you goof, the speed healing."
"Mostly, the doctors think it's a little strange when a cut heals before their eyes," the warrior said.
"Too many questions?" Lex nodded, she'd gone to the hospital once shortly after she'd been become one of the Thirteen. She'd been making one of her ill-fated attempts to cook dinner for her and her mother when she'd cut her finger.
Meana had gone into hysterics before nearly passing out at the sight of the blood. By that time in her training Lex had been used to blood and pain and it was she who'd calmly driven them both to the hospital.
An hour and a half wait later her finger had nearly healed itself and the doctor had looked at her with disdain. To him, it likely looked like she'd come in for a paper cut. Only her mother's insistent nagging had gotten the doctor to take a blood sample to insure she didn't have some sort of blood poisoning.
Athena had later had her steal the test tube and replace the sample with a vial of her own, normal blood. The Dhaskalos hadn't been sure if Lex's abnormal abilities would somehow show up in her blood work and neither warrior had wanted to take any chances.
"Well your skin will be healed soon enough," Megan said inspecting the wound critically. She wanted to be sure there would be no infection. "But your eye, I don't know Lex, I think you've lost that one."
"Yeah, I figured as much," Lex's shoulders slumped, loss of an eye would just be one more advantage the demons gained on her.
"Hey we could be wrong, your powers may heal it, we don't know," Megan said trying to cheer the girl up.
"It speeds repair but it won't help much with what wouldn't usually heal Megan. It's no big deal, after all, the goddess gave me a spare right?" She asked tapping her good eye. Megan smiled and patted Lex's shoulder. The blonde put on a fresh layer of gauze and placed the patch over top allowing Lex to tie it up. It was a strip of cloth, initially a headband that went over her eye and wrapped awkwardly around her head.
"You want some ice?" The blonde asked.
"Nah, I'll be fine, go rack out,' Lex answered.
"Alright. Sweet dreams."
"Yeah you too," Lex moved off toward her bedroom and Megan went over to the couch. "Hey Megan?" The older girl looked up at her with a questioning smile. "Thanks."
"Any time." At that Lex nodded and went to bed.
"Megan! Megan wake up!" Lex gave the reporter's shoulders a couple of firm shakes and the blonde's eyes snapped open. "It's okay, it was just a dream Meg, it's okay." Lex searched the girl's eyes trying to find some sanity in the sea of green.
"Lex, God, I saw…Jesus, I don't know what I saw. Death, so much blood, Lex I saw him." The blonde looked up at the Hunter terror written on her youthful face.
"Him? Who?" The Hunter asked her confusion evident.
"The warlock, the man who wants to kill Athena, in my dreams. I know it was him."
"Okay, slow down, relax, I'm right here, I'll get you some water and you can tell me everything."
Warlock? What warlock? This isn't a good thing. I'm not ready to deal with a full blown magic worker, some guy with a few trinkets and a little bit of power sure but this is out of my league.
"No Lex," Megan grabbed tightly on the Hunter's bare arm her nails digging into the skin. "Please don't leave me yet, it's still so real. I can feel everything, I just…" Lex tugged on the hem of her tank top, she really wasn't good at the emotional comfort thing.
Okay I can do this, just like a vamp victim, just let her vent, I can do this.
"I won't go anywhere," Lex said as she sat at Megan's feet. She grabbed a pad of paper and a pen from the coffee table. Lex remembered Siobhan's warnings about Megan. The girl was a Seer, a witch with the ability to look into the future.
Untrained, the predictions could manifest as any number of things, gut instinct, like on Hell night. Less commonly, but still reliable, were dream manifestations. If this dream was indeed a premonition Lex would do well to document as much as possible before Megan forgot.
"Tell me everything you can."
"Blood, death, it surrounded him. It'll never stop Lex, he wants revenge, he'll kill everything."
"Did he speak?" Lex turned to the terrified girl trying to convey a sense of calm. Athena had taught her the technique early in her training to calm hysterical victims. It only required a low level of magic and it was basically Lexina projecting her own inner calm into the mind of the frightened person.
It would have been harder to do if Megan had shields around her mind to keep intruders out but evidently the girl hadn't gotten that far in her lessons yet. Shields could also be used to hide your presence to someone searching for your aura but that was well beyond Lex's training.
"Megan, did he say anything? Come on stay with me." Slowly the girl's expression relaxed and she nodded.
"The blood of the innocents shall soak the earth and not even the defender of man shall defeat me." Megan sighed and wrapped her blanket tightly around herself. "That's it, that's all I remember."
That's not good, not good at all.
Lex fervently hoped that it was simple coincidence that those exact words had been used. Not that the other Shadow Hunters weren't themselves 'defenders of man' but she didn't think any of the others had chosen namesakes that were specifically that definition. If it wasn't coincidence it would mean Megan's premonition applied specifically to Lex's situation.
Not that death isn't part and parcel of this whole gig but I'm not sure I like knowing that it's coming. There's got to be a way stop him. I need more.
"You didn't see what he looked like?"
"No, he had a big cloak on, I only saw his eyes. They were red, a bright burning red, and he had a book, it was plain you know, like a journal but big."
"Okay, it's over now," Lex put the pad on the table and stood up.
"You're not leaving are you? Stay for just a…"
"I'm not going anywhere, lift up your head." Megan did as she was told and Lex sat down putting Megan's pillow on her lap. The blonde laid back down fidgeting slightly to get comfortable.
"There's still a few hours before we have to go to Siobhan's, try to go back to sleep. I'll be right here the whole time."
"I promise," the Hunter gave the blonde's head a bit of a scratch and waited for her to close her eyes. Lex sent more calming feelings into Megan's mind and her friend soon drifted into a dreamless sleep.
To be continued…
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