- Issue #25: Summer Session
- Issue #26: Ace Agenda
- Issue #27: Beyond Good And Medieval
- Issue #28: The Beach Episode
- Issue #29: Little Girl Lost
- Issue #30: Strange Times At Dayspring College
- Issue #31: It Came From a Warped Star
- Issue #32: Ahead/Behind
- Descendants Special #3: A Brilliant Twilight
- Issue #33: The Liedecker Institute: Freshman Class
- Issue #34: Back to School
- Issue #35: Demonology
- Issue #36: Let’s Go
- Descendants Annual #3
Augustus plowed through the underbrush at the bottom of the hill and kept moving. Already, his breath was ragged, but adrenaline drove him on. He didn’t care if his lungs burned and his legs became knots of cramps as long as he put as much distance as possible between himself and the insanity unfolding behind him.
He hadn’t asked for this. He didn’t want it. He was probably going to need to move out of Mayfield now, just to get away from Occult and Codex and that stupid Book.
The Book. It was still in his paint case, he realized. Why was he still carrying it? What kind of hold did it have on him even now?
Lost in frenzied thought, Augustus didn’t notice that he’d come out of the woods and to the edge of an earth wall that lined one of the park’s jogging paths until he was already stepping out into empty air.
Luck (he hoped) kept him from breaking anything as he hit the ground stumbling and blundered into the earth wall opposite it. He dropped his case and clung to the exposed dirt on the side of the trail, trying to keep his feet.
He didn’t know how long he stayed there, but the next thing he knew, he was aware of someone behind him. To his dismay, he knew who it was even before she spoke.
“I’m sorry about this, Augustus.” Codex said, her voice heavy.
“How’d you find me?” He breathed, laying his cheek on the cool dirt.
“You’re not the stealthy type.” Said Codex. “You left a very easy to follow path. Now come on, we have work to do.”
“Not going anywhere.”
Codex sighed. “I don’t want to make you do anything you don’t want. But what just happened makes it clear that you do need to learn. You’ve got this power and unless you learn to control it, you have the potential to be far more dangerous than any psionic ever born.”
This got him to turn around at least, but he pressed his back to the wall like a cornered animal. “What does any of that have to do with me?”
“When you had your little blow up back there, you were waving your hands around.” She started.
“So? You don’t understand how it feels to have someone come up to you and tell you that they’re going to make you face your worse nightmare.”
“And I understand that, but let me finish.” Codex stared him down from behind the smoked lenses of her goggles until she was confident that there would be no interruptions. “As I was saying, you started waving them in a pattern. Unconsciously. It was a spell; one that weakens the boundaries between our world and the world those creatures came from. He must have been searching for weak points to breech when you created one.”
“What? No.” Augustus moved to pick up his case, but stopped himself. He stared at it instead. That was where the Book was; waiting. “I had nothing to do with that!”
“You did, Augustus.” Codex said firmly, “And we’re going to need your help to find him. God knows who he could hurt if we don’t’ get to him first.”
Darleen Summers gratefully took a seat on one of the benches lining the wall at Ray’s Gym in downtown Mayfield and pulled her water bottle out of her bag. She never would have set foot in the place three months ago and would have been insulted if anyone had suggested that she needed to. But things had changed since she started sharing her body with the demon called Rehenimaru.
In the weeks since she’d made her covenant with the exiled being from another dimension, there had been many changes.
At first, they had been barely noticeable. Her appetite had grown, especially for red meat, but nothing she ate seemed to add any weight. Her libido had soared and she found herself going to clubs every night after work. And her energy levels… well the gym hadn’t been Rehenimaru’s idea; Darleen just found that she became agitated and stir crazy now if she didn’t keep active.
And then there was the magic. Rehenimaru called it Blood Magic and had promised that it would only get stronger the longer the remained bonded. Darleen was already fascinated with limited shape changing; it was more effective and cheaper than all the make-up and hair products she’d been used to. And the fire conjuring was more than a little exciting, even if she still had a hard time lighting a candle.
For her part, Rehenimaru seemed largely content to just to experience Mayfield through her eyes, occasionally demanding to visit places they’d seen on TV or bus ads. The only other favors she’d demanded were far less vile than Darleen had expected for a demon, if still legally dubious.
She downed her water and admired her own toned legs. Having someone else sharing her body was strange; disconcerting at times, but she couldn’t fault the results. She’d had more dates in the last few weeks than the majority of her adult life. Life seemed to be doing nothing but looking up.
In an alley not far from Wagner Park, a red glint of light floated down to the lid of a dumpster. “It has being gone.” It called.
Slowly, the lid lifted. At first, it only raised enough for an orange eye to emerge on a stalk and have a look around. Then it opened fully for Aenix to climb out, wrapped almost head to toe in the black shroud that was Ecksion.
“That was not pleasant.” Ecksion gurgled, shaking detritus free. “Hiding in filth from witches. Why?” He spat the word witches, quivering in fury.
Aenix grimaced and pulled a long, thin vial from his belt and quaffed the contents. “Because that isn’t the job.” He threw the now empty vial against the wall and enjoyed watching it smash. “Besides, the blue one did something. Nearly made my ears bleed. We don’t need that.”
“But I like killing witches.” Ecksion moaned, “It’s been so long. Especially Mankind witches. Haven’t killed one of those since before you were even born. They’ve got a nice flavor.”
“This isn’t a pleasure trip, Ecks.” Aenix reprimanded him harshly. “We’ve got a job.”
“It never is.” The creature muttered, “It’s always work.”
“And it keeps us fed and in luxury.” Aenix noted. “Now be serious. He said that there’s a Sai’n’shree demon here in the Blue World and he wants her bought back to Auckshuld for questioning. See if you can scent anything demonic around here.”
Ecksion pouted, but did as told, forming a gargoyle head behind and above Aenix’s and sniffing the wind. After a few moments, the leer on his face deepened and his eyes narrowed with pleasure. “She’s been near. Less than a week ago. She’s in a Mankind body.”
“I’m not surprised.” Aenix made his way toward the mouth of the alley. Evading Occult had been a feat. It seemed that half the people on the street were more than eager to point out which way he’d gone. He didn’t doubt that they’d alert her if they saw him again. “We need a disguise.” He said. “Something that won’t stick out.”
“I have finding something!” Uur called. The red mote hadn’t left the dumpster and was hovering over one of a trash bag that had come open.
Aenix stalked back and took a look. He smirked. “Lycanthrope Hunter Z to X?” He read the cover of the flat format disc box lying partly out of the refuse and nodded his approval at the character that graced it. “Well, if this is how the Blue World’s bounty hunters dress… Ecks, can you make it so?”
The gargoyle head nodded, “Except for those… loops over the shoulders. I don’t think even I have the muscle control for that.”
Occult emerged from a rose portal in the park once more. Her expression was dire. “He managed to lose me in the city.” She reported to Codex, who was sitting on a bench next to a very frustrated and frightened looking Augustus. “I see you had better luck.”
“Not by much.” Codex said, frowning down at her palmtop. “He still refuses to look in the Book of Passions for an answer.”
“Then what now?” Occult asked, sitting down heavily on the other side of Augustus and staring at her own boots. “Without a piece of this demonic bounty hunter or something that belongs to him, I can’t scry for him.”
“I know.” Said Codex. “I already thought of that.” Her thumbs flew across the tiny keypad of her computer. “With no Book of Passions,” She made sure to intone that as seriously as possible for Augustus’s benefit, “and nothing to scry with, magic is going to get us nowhere. So it’s time for science to step in.”
“Science?” Augustus leaned over to peak at the screen. “What are you doing?”
“Last time we dealt with creatures from Faerie, I learned that they have different astral signatures. Luckily, I just so happen to have a network of astral transceivers distributed across the city. It’ll take a while to cycle through them all, but even if we can’t find the bounty hunter, maybe we’ll find the demon he’s hunting. We can’t ignore that any more than we can this Aenix person.”
“Either way, we need a plan to deal with that bounty hunter.” Occult opened the digi-book of Reason. “At the very least, I want to know what the hell that thing on his back was.”
Augustus fidgeted in his place between the two women. There was a silence filled only with keypads being tapped. “I couldn’t have summoned that thing, whatever it was. It had to be the Book. It’s trying to make me learn. Just like it called those monsters to the college.”
Codex shook her head. “I doubt it. Aenix could have killed you back there and quite possibly would have if you hadn’t run away. If you’re dead, the Book doesn’t get used, which is all they want. I’m inclined to believe that it’s all you and I’m hoping the Book itself comes up with something that helps; if only to protect you.”
“But I’m not in danger.” Augustus countered.
“That thing Aenix was wearing, Ecksion; it wanted to kill all of us because it sensed the magic. Once it and Aenix deal with the demon they’re after, they’ll come back for us. All of us.”
Augustus’s eye went wide. “Well… call the other Descendants. They can protect me. Why aren’t they here already?”
“I asked her not to.” Occult said. “Not unless it gets really hairy. The Magical World is my responsibility. As long as we still think we can handle it, I’d rather not involve them. The Book of Reason and the Book of Passions are both far better weapons against this threat than the Descendants’ powers.”
Codex nodded. “But if things do get hairy, I’ve got my finger on the button.” She assured Augustus.
“Then push it.” Augustus sniffed. “In case both of you have been ignoring me, you don’t have the Book of Passions because I’m not going to use it. I don’t care if it chooses me and chases me to the end of the world; I’m not going to use it. I don’t want to be taken over by an evil book.”
Codex turned toward him very slowly. “Augustus, look at us. Occult and I are right now putting our all into helping you. Protecting you. By using the Book of Reason. Do we look evil to you?”
“But nothing.” Codex said sharply. “I’m sorry if you didn’t want it. I’m sorry if you’re afraid of it. But this is part of who you are now. Just like thousands of psionics are born with their abilities.
“Believe me; more psionics than you know have suffered for their powers. And like you, they have to take personal responsibility for it. Like it or not, having the power to fix these things, to do what’s right, and not using it… it’s almost as bad as using it to do evil yourself.”
Augustus sank back against the bench and glowered at the paint case at his feet. “I guess you can call me evil then.” He said. “I don’t want it.” With that, he kicked the case as hard as he could. It flew across the path and cracked open against the opposite bench.
The Book of Passions tumbled out, its pages falling open.
Occult glanced at him and when to retrieve the Book. “Real mature. I thought you were a college guy. There’s more mature guys than you at my…” she trailed off as she saw what page the Book had opened to.
“Codex, look!” She picked up the Book to show its contents to her. The page read ‘Ritual to Banish Bad Faeries.”
“Excellent.” Codex said, “It looks like the Book is willing to help even if Augustus isn’t. Now let’s hope I can locate Aenix before he causes some serious trouble.”
Most women (or anyone for that matter) wouldn’t even consider taking such an alley home alone. It was situated so that the only time light even fell into it was high noon and even then, not much filtered down.
But most women didn’t have demon enhanced strength, agility and reflexes, so to Darleen Summers, it was just a shortcut that cut a good four blocks off her walk from the gym to her home. She usually didn’t even look over her shoulder when she went took it.
But as she walked home, humming contentedly to herself, she heard soft footsteps behind her. And the soft hiss of a sword being drawn.
“I guess you’re Rehenimaru. Or, I suppose you’ve got her inside. Fun’s over, demon. Don’t make me cut you out of that pretty shell.” Hissed Aenix.
Both Darleen and Rehenimaru smiled as they heard another sound behind Aenix. The bestial snarls represented the other reason no one ever came down this alley. Aenix was about to learn first hand.