A/N: Same as last chapter. Underlined words are supposed to be crossed out.
Not feeling up to it, I ditched the last two periods after lunch, going to the nurse and claiming nausea and a headache.
Beforehand I had snuck into the alchemy department and nicked a few roots and flowers to grind with nymph tears. The resulting mixture is a gloppy purple substance used to coat knives and makes them slightly stronger and harder to break. The smell is so repulsive though, that most end up seeing their past meals that hadn't been digested yet after a single whiff. It tastes almost as bad as it smells, so a spoonful mixed into a simple sandwich is a free pass to the nurses' office.
The nurse was a young light faerie, clearly more focused on her looks than her job. She kept texting away before, during and after she gave me a potion and told me to rest. So it was pretty easy to gulp the bitter liquid down and leave when she herself left to go meet up with her lover by the bathrooms at the other end of the building.
For the next two and a half hours-ish I wandered the school gardens, looking for an isolate area where no one would bother me.
I found a decent tree with shrubbery all around and sat down against the sturdy trunk. I stared ahead at the boring, green, leafy patches until I was in an almost trance-like daze. I was so focused on nothing that I felt my mind slip away, drift off into oblivion.
I felt like I was soaring, but frozen. Like my body was chained, rooted to the earth but my spirit was detached, had more freedom though still held back.
Then I smelt smoke.
The odd and strange trance I was in left me in an instant, leaving me disorientated and slightly panicky. I got to my feet, ready for battle but the world was still drunk and spinning. I swayed and fell back against the tree, closing my eyes and trying to regulate my breathing.
When I opened them again, I saw that I was still alone. My only company was the boring green bushes and the tree that was supporting me.
I really need to get some sleep. I'm beginning to hallucinate.
I checked the time and was surprised to see that two hours had flown by and there was only about twenty minutes of class left.
I turned to pick up my things but stopped short.
The trunk of the tree, right above where I had been sitting, had a dark black marking coloring it and I knew it hadn't been there before.
I carefully reached my fingertips to the blackened area to tentatively touch it. Bringing my hand back I saw that the coloring had dusted off onto my fingers. Soot.
The tree had been burned by something and it was not an accident. The fire marking was shaped like an actual flame, a flame's silhouette or shadow captured on bark. The edges so perfect it looked like it had been drawn on with chalk. If chalk smelt like burnt wood.
I backed away from the tree, checking my surroundings once again before dashing off back to the dorms.
What the hell was that?
I shoved it to the back of my mind, unable to understand what had happened or how. Today was just much too weird, even for me.
Maybe I ate too much of the...no that makes less sense...
I ran straight to my room, ignoring the calls of a few of my classmates whose names I hadn't bothered to remember. I think Tigerlily was one of them, but I'm not sure. Even if she were, I wouldn't have stopped. I had to get to Hell as soon as possible.
I slammed my door shut, startling the were-falcon who lived across from me only to come face-to-face with Lucifer. Looks like Hell was slightly faster than I was.
"Luke," I started, mildly surprised but getting ready to lash out about him just sending me away like a disobedient child and trapping me in the stupid school.
But he stopped me, briskly saying, "Yell at me later. Council Meeting, now."
It took me a few seconds to understand and I quickly pull up my shade as Lucifer teleported us both to the location of the Meeting.
Council Meetings are located in a separate dimension (for lack of a better word) like Hell, the Upper Realm or Supernatural School. It was created using the powers of all the first Council members and is kept going through the current ones.
Lucifer teleported us right outside the door to the Meeting Hall, giving us both time to get into character. I pulled out my signature bandana from my 'drawer' and tied it tightly around my face, completing the disguise. He hadn't given me the time before and I was lucky that the hallway was empty.
Seeing as I was done, he placed a hand on the polished doors and muttered an incantation that only Council Members knew. When a member retired, the words would disappear from their minds along with the location of the Council. If they died, then the job is done already.
The doors swung open on their own and we both stepped through to see that everyone else had already arrived and were seated in their assigned seats.
Lucifer calmly strolled to his seat at one end of the long rectangular table and I followed to stand at his left side. Unlike the other gold-plated seats, Lucifer's was sleek, black and cool to the touch.
"So glad you could join us, Lucifer," Edgar Spiecherg, the male vampire representative, drawled bitterly. He exuded the same pompous attitude as the last time I had the displeasure of being in his company.
Lucifer coolly answered back, sinking into his chair and put one leg over the other as if he were about to read the morning paper on a rocking chair, "Ruling an entire realm makes it difficult to just drop all my duties to come running to a Meeting. Besides, Slayer was the one who retrieved the sample so he should be present. Even he has responsibilities that can't be tossed carelessly, Eggy."
Edgar scowled in embarrassment and disdain at Lucifer's nickname for him. Had he had a beating heart, I'm sure his face would have been painted red.
Before Edgar could respond with a horrible comeback, Sylvia, the witch representative, sternly berated the two, "Edgar, Lucifer, for once could you two at least pretend to be civil during a Meeting. This is important, the results have finally come in."
The seriousness of her tone and the situation made the two behave, temporarily at least. They always behaved like this whenever in the other's presence.
My ears stood to attention at the mentioning of the results. After spending so long doing innumerable missions relating to the damn drug, finding out what was in it more than interested me.
The rest of the Council also straightened out and leaned forward, paying careful attention to Sylvia.
She took everyone's attention as her cue to continue, "Yes, the results from testing the sample Slayer retrieved have come in. The creator of Lunaria is someone of high magical capabilities, and after much debate between our facilities, is most likely an extremely proficient witch or warlock."
Her grave words drew out a gasp from a few of the members and some suspicious eyes glanced at Sylvia and Gordon, Daniel's father. Lucifer remained emotionless, but I saw his hands tense briefly.
Sylvia ignored the looks and stopped Gordon from interrupting to defend his pride by increasing her tone, "We have no suspects as of yet," I kept my surprise hidden from the statement.Did Luke not tell anyone about the angel-nymph's words? Bar...Bartus something. Draheim! That's it. "but the creator is experienced in forbidden magic. The ingredients of Lunaria that we uncovered were most commonly found in alchemy spells that have been banned for centuries. Demon ashes, pixie wings, elf tears, the petals of green drakon lilies and...blood. Blood from one of each type of pure supernatural and a human."
Silence filled the room, none daring to speak after what was just heard. From my readings I knew that those ingredients were either banned or incredibly difficult to obtain and that was just some of the ingredients the alchemy specialists were able to discover.
The blood part... Blood is only used in the darkest of alchemy, the area where only those who crave power like a drug would ever venture to. Dark alchemy usually results in the castor's death, and few have been able to master it.
Lucifer sat up and knocked on the table, attracting everyone's attention. When all eyes were focused on him he spoke tonelessly, "Last night, I sent Slayer on a mission and an angel-nymph was killed. When the girl died, she said a name. Bartus Draheim."
Only some recognized the name and their widened eyes and disbelieving expressions clearly expressed their dread. The vampires Edgar and Sheila, the spirits Daphne and Cedric, the older angel Raphael and the ancient faerie queen Liseira. The oldest Council members.
"That's impossible. Draheim is dead. Even if he did somehow survive, it's been 300 years. He would have perished to old age before the first 100," Sheila broke the silence, her voice carrying denial but a tinge of fear.
Is this Draheim guy really that horrifying? The oldest members fear him. Who the hell is he?
Jeffrey Recktor, a were-lion who was the newest Council member, vocalized my question, "Who is Bartus Draheim? Is he the one behind the drugs?"
"Bartus Draheim was a magnificent warlock and a Council member long before Gordon and Sylvia. He had a dislike for human and half bloods but he rarely let it cloud his judgement. But just about 3 centuries ago, we received a prophecy," Liseira explained to the majority who were just as clueless as I was about the mysterious man Bartus Draheim.
"A prophecy?" Selene the female angel representative, questioned, her delicate dark brown eyebrow quirked in cautious curiosity.
Lucifer leaned forward, about to be the one to answer this time and I paid careful attention. The prophecy that had Lucifer worried and Matt was suspected to play a major part. I was going to hear every damn word.
"We've locked it away for safe keeping after what happened with Draheim. The prophecy mentioned the possibility for humans to be eradicated or to something of that effect and Draheim stole it in an attempt to control it. He looked for the child, hinted to be a pure human, mentioned in the prophecy for the next few years, murdering innocents until we finally caught him. He should be dead though, I killed him myself."
"Maybe Miss Giddings didn't say his name and your dog just misheard her," Gordon proposed. I glared at him, slightly annoyed that he'd openly insulted me like that. I am technically his senior by more than a century and could easily kick his arrogant ass. The main reason he annoyed me though was because his suggestion was completely ridiculous and it would've been best if he had kept his mouth shut.
Wait. Giddings? That name...
Mr. Bertham's list popped into my head with intense clarity. It was like the image was being forced into my head by another power. The sloppy script was emphasized, a single name with pronounced lines my mind had added.
Amalia Giddings 24
Keeping what was visible of my expression relaxed and emotionless, I sent a thought to Lucifer, Luke, was the angle-nymph called Amalia Giddings? 24 in human years?
The other Council members began murmuring amongst themselves, oblivious to our mental conversation.
'Yes, why? And how did you know?' he responded, his face not betraying a single drop of curiosity that leaked from his question.
I need to talk to you. Now. The urgency in my mental tone was enough for Lucifer to stand up and say, "I have to discuss some private matters with Slayer. When I get back, I hope you all have something useful to say."
My small grin was hidden as I enjoyed the insulted looks from various members who I didn't particularly like. Lucifer and I walked out the door we entered from and he put up a shield around us, one that could prevent eavesdroppers from listening in.
"What did you figure out? I never told you anything about the angel-nymph but you knew her name and human age," he stated. He knows me way too well.
"This is either me being really paranoid or one helluva coincidence, but I saw a list of names with a number next to each. Amalia Giddings was one of them but her name was crossed out like some others. It was just a hunch, but a crossed out name, the same name as a girl who died and the same age?" I let the rhetorical question hang, waiting for Lucifer's response.
His eyes became blank, opaque stones and I was almost afraid. Emotionlessly he asked, "Where was this paper?"
I answered calmly and obediently, instantly going into 'mission-mode', "I'm almost certain it belongs to Mr. Bertham, my alchemy teacher. Darius Bertham, a warlock though I don't know of what specialty."
Lucifer tapped his fingers against his thinned lips that were slightly pulled down in an almost frown, "This is too coincidental."
He pulled down the shield and walked back to the room, flinging the doors open with me trailing behind and ignoring the expecting stares.
He stood in front of his seat, supporting his weight with his hands on the table as he leaned forward and sent me a quick glance before stating, "We have a suspect."
He waited for the other members to process his abrupt declaration and break out in chaos.
Just as expected, questions on his claim flew around the room in a highly disorganized manner.
"Do you have any proof?"
"Are you telling the truth?"
"How do you know?"
"How did you get a suspect so quickly?"
And many, many more calls mixed, mangled, knotted and collided together. Lucifer slammed his hands against the table, effectively shutting up the jabbering leaders.
He sternly looked at each member, challenging them to interrupt or continue to question his reliability and judgement, "Slayer discovered a list of names followed by a number which we have guessed to be their human age. Some of the names were crossed out, Amalia Giddings being one. It could be mere coincidence but the owner of the paper is a warlock. The alchemy teacher at Supernatural School, Darius Bertham."
"You think a teacher at the School is the one behind Lunaria? That he's using the alias of Draheim?" Sylvia asked, slightly skeptical.
"Did the dog see any other names?" Gordon questioned, raising an eyebrow at me in condescension.
Lucifer looked at me over his shoulder and I closed my eyes to try and bring up the image of the paper. Instead, I brought back an elusive voice.
'What is it you wish to know, dear Nyx?' the Voice asked. From her tone, I knew she knew exactly what I wanted to know.
Why are you here? Go away, I need to remember the other names on the paper Mr. Bertham had. Besides, you won't tell me what I want to know from you.
'I wish I could tell you everything, but I cannot for now. You heeded my warning of the warlock which will give you time that you need. Now you just need to find out who he is,' she responded, dodging my questions and making me think of more.
If you're not going to be helpful, then go away. I need to remember the names!
As I thought-yelled back, the image flew to the front of my mind, clear as untainted, repeatedly polished crystal.
Amalia Giddings 24, Jason Schmidt 29, Ronald Fenry 19, Gracelyn...
I repeated the names to Lucifer via thought-speech and he said them aloud to the council, stating the age and whether or not the name had been crossed.
'Do not talk back to me like that, Nyx. Next time, I will not be so lenient in aiding you. I will let you handle the Seer by yourself.'
With that last thought, I felt her presence leave my mind just in time for me to listen to the Council discuss the four names I had seen.
Jeffrey was frowning, "Jason Schmidt...that's the name of the werewolf dealer we," he looked up at me before correcting himself, "I mean, Slayer, caught around last week. He died during interrogation right after he was brought in. From his records, he was 29."
"Do you know the last name of the Gracelyn girl?" Sheila asked. "One of the vampiress addicts was Gracelyn Garica. She was half human."
Lucifer looked at me and I shook my head, I had only caught a quick glimpse.
"What about the Ronald Fenry? His was the only one not crossed out. Does it mean he's alive?" Cedric, the male spirit representative asked.
"I'd assume so. Everyone, check among your people to see if there is a Ronald Fenry, aged 19. If a match comes up, report immediately," Lucifer began giving orders. He faced Sheila, "Sheila, you are closely linked to the School, so could you keep an eye on Darius Bertham? I'll have my own spy there for extra precautions."
Sheila nodded, "Of course. We've finally got a lead and—"
Sheila was cut off when at the center of the table a blinding, orangey white light erupted, causing everyone to shield their eyes to prevent blindness.
Scythe was already equipped in my hand as I tensed in preparation for when I could look at the intruder.
As soon as the light subsided enough to not blind me, I jumped forward onto the table and used Scythe as a high jump pole to spin in the air to land a solid kick to the intruder's chest. The intruder went flying backwards with an "oof" and I regained my footing, Scythe held up in front of me, ready to strike.
The light finally cleared completely and I had to bite back a gasp as I recognized the intruder.
"Oww... What the hell was that for?" He looked around from his position on the table and rubbed his back asking, "And where am I this time? I was only gettin' somethin' to eat."
Katrina, a were-condor, and Sheila immediate sprung into action, pinning Matt to the floor. Sheila's fangs were extended to their impressive 2 inches and Katrina had semi-shifted to have her hands turn into fierce claws and her eyes gold.
"Release him, I don't know how he got here, but he is harmless," Lucifer ordered, I caught his eye and returned Scythe to my 'drawer' and went to Matt. I wordlessly took him by the arms from Katrina and Sheila who still hadn't returned to normal.
"What the hell are you doing here?" I whispered heatedly into his ear as I shoved him towards Lucifer.
He didn't have a chance to answer as the Council was in chaos once more. All thirteen of them were worse than newborn Fay.
"Lucifer what is the meaning of this?"
"Who is the boy?"
"How did he get here?"
Matt stopped suddenly causing me to crash into his back and he pointed at each member, stuttering, "Oh my...y-y-you...t-they...w-wings...T-Tinkerbell...a-angels...you a-ain't e-even gots a body!"