Issue #5 Legends of Chaos and Darkness

This entry is part 6 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 1: Welcome to Freeland House

Part 4

Warrick wrenched Kay sideways, out of the path of the flashing blade. At the same time, he tried again to attack the weapon with his powers. Once again, he failed. Morganna swung again, forcing him to stumble back with Kay still clutched near him.

“What the hell’s wrong with you?!” Cyn demanded. She grabbed Morganna’s wrists and tried to hold her back. “Have you completely flipped?”

Juniper grabbed Kay from Warrick’s grasp and put her free hand on JC’s shoulder. “We need to get out of here. We need to call the police.” Seeing ‘Lisa’ struggle violently with Cyn was all the convincing the two needed and they allowed Juniper to coax them toward the door.

“What about Warrick and Cyn?” Kay asked as they exited.

“They’ll be right behind us.” Juniper assured.

Back in the kitchen, Morganna felt her grip on the ensorcelled weapon slipping. The girl, Cyn was strong – far stronger than a natural human her size would be. “What are you?” She grunted. “You are no mundane being… no human… but you are not Faerie… a fey either.”

“What the hell are you talking about?!” Cyn demanded. She had reached the end of her patience with Lisa’s new strangeness. To be truthful, she was a bit unnerved that Lisa suddenly knew she was a psionic but she was most disturbed at being called inhuman. “If you can turn frying pans into swords – guess what? You’re psionic too!” With that, she flattened her hands to paper thinness and forced them under Morganna’s grip, seizing the weapon away.

Pushing away from Cyn, Morganna stared at her as if studying her under glass. She searched her new memories and dug up knowledge on people with superhuman abilities. Those people were capable of a range of things that albeit specialized, was capable of breaking the same basic rules magic was capable of. They were usurpers, pale reflections of the true variety and greatness of magic.

Morganna’s eyes flashed. “Abomination!” she howled. Her summoned sword was gone, magic leaking from it like a sieve, and she had no other handy reagents or foci to work with. That left only vulgar magic as an option.

Vulgar magic was the crudest, easiest form of magic. It relied purely on pouring the right amount of energy into something in the right pattern to create an effect. It was short lived, unreliable, and often had damaging or even explosive results. It was the magical equivalent of grasping the reigns of reality with one’s bare hands and twisting it into the basic shape one wanted. And that is exactly what Morganna did.

Red light formed in her hand and before Cyn could react, Morganna thrust it into her midsection. Raw lines of force shot out in a cone from Morganna’s outstretched hand, accompanied by a sound like thunder. Cyn was lifted bodily and thrown into the kitchen wall, smashing through the drywall and landing in the front hall.

“I am magic… power overwhelming! You are wrong. Anathema. I will—“Morganna’s tirade was cut off by a metal tentacle wrapping swiftly around her midsection, forcing the air from her lungs in a loud ‘whuff’.

“Lisa, I don’t know what’s going on here,” Warrick said, directing the other tentacle to bind her thrashing legs. “But this isn’t you. We’re your friends. Kay’s your best friend. You don’t want to hurt us and we don’t want to hurt you. Just calm down.”

Morganna wasn’t listening. Her mind was on the presences she was now aware of. Moments ago the tentacles had been bands wrapped around the ‘psionic’s’ arms; inert and inanimate. Now they were alive. Not just animated, but alive. In her mage’s senses, she could feel their living, thinking minds even as they tried to hold her immobile. This was something that magic couldn’t do; something nothing of Faerie was capable of. It was unique and something she would need to learn more about.

She began to giggle. It wasn’t Lisa’s amused chuckle, no; it was a mad, low titter that had her shaking in her aluminum bonds. “Something new… something I can work with in this… barren world.” She muttered and began to outright laugh uncontrollably.

Cyn glared at the hysterical woman as she got off the floor. Her irritation at the situation was quickly catching up to her concern for her friend. “Lisa.” She said through clenched teeth, “Stop it.”

“No.” Morganna said, suddenly cutting her own laughter off. “You… you don’t understand. You won’t understand until… until it’s too late.” Vulgar magic didn’t need the fancy hand gestures that higher magics required. It only needed knowledge and will, which Morganna had in spades.

Blue sparks raced up her body, dancing briefly over the tentacles before racing down their length into Warrick who screamed and fell to the ground, convulsing. The tentacles let out a similarly pained sound and dropped Morganna as if burned.

“Warrick!” Cyn exclaimed, rushing to her fallen friend. He was shivering, seemingly knocked senseless, but aside from painful looking burns where the tentacles attached to his arms, he was still whole. She glared up at Morganna who was just regaining her feet. “I don’t care what powers you’ve got, Lisa. You’ve got to be stopped. So you don’t hurt anyone else and for your own good.” With that, she leapt at her.

Morganna flattened to the ground, allowing Cyn to pass harmlessly over her. “Oh, but I do… care about your powers.” She hissed, dashing past Warrick and into the hall. “But I can’t… don’t have time to see to them now. I have to find regents… get foci… magic is complicated – everything I’ve shown you are just… tricks.”

“You don’t even know what you’re talking about.” Cyn said, rounding on her and preparing to charge again. “Psionic powers aren’t magic. There’s not such thing.” She ran headlong into Morganna seeking to knock her out.

Letting the blow come, Morganna girded herself in magic, forcing it into taunt lines around her upper torso and arms. “This. Is. Magic!” She lifted Cyn bodily off the floor. With the last remnant of her hasty spell, she threw Cyn down the hall into the living room. The young shapeshifter smashed into a bookcase, which let out a groan as it fell on her.

With an almost casual grace, Morganna strolled into the room and looked at Cyn struggling to get the sturdy piece of furniture off of her. “You… should have let me go in the first place.” She said with a shrug.

From where Cyn lay, she could see Zack prone beside the sofa. His eyes were wide and vacant, but he was still breathing. “Oh my god…” she murmured. “Lisa, what did you do to Zack? He’s you’re brother, damnit!”

“He’s this body’s brother.” Morganna shrugged. “I… respected that, I think. He’s only… out for the next… hour? Two hours?”

Flattening herself further than humanly possible, Cyn started sliding out from under the bookcase. “Why are you doing this, Lisa? What the hell is going on?”

Strange, mad eyes met Cyn’s gaze and she instantly felt fear well up inside her. A bit of power washed over her was Morganna used the eye contact as an impromptu focus for a spell whose description roughly translated to truth speaking. “Hear me… psionic. I am… not the one whose face you see. I am… inhabiting her. Riding her skin. I am… exactly as told you – Morganna le Fay Wielder of the knowledge that grants power—Magic… in its true form.”

She finished with a sharp kick that pressed the bookcase down harder on top of Cyn and walked over to the picture window that looked out over East 79th street from ten stories up. “This world has… forgotten everything. I will have to… rectify that.” She opened the window and looked back at Cyn. “You will tell them… let them know who I am… and what I can do.” With that, she threw her power into the wind and stepped out into empty space.

Inside the apartment, Cyn screamed in frustration and rage, but mostly concern for her former friend.

***

Everything in the universe operates according to certain rules; certainties that allow existence to happen. As far back as the pharaohs of Egypt, knowledge of the most basic of these was held by the most learned of men. Those same men suppressed this knowledge. They didn’t do so to oppress anyone or for profit; not out of elitism or religious fervor. They did what they did because they were mages and the mere knowledge of things such as gravity made magic harder to perform.

The human brain rejects magic, especially magic that violates rules it knows to be true. For example, a brain that has been schooled in the law of gravity knows that it is wrong not to fall in the direction of the strongest gravitational force and subconsciously sabotages any spell to the contrary.

Through rigorous meditation and other mental conditioning, a spellcaster can train their brain to ignore this wrongness, allowing them to freely use physics defying spells at their whim. The problem Morganna was suddenly aware of as she stepped out of the Ortega’s tenth story window was thus; such mental conditioning is part of the mind, not the soul. The mind is a physical thing, ingrained in the topography of the living brain. And the brain Morganna was now using was not her own, highly conditioned brain.

And so she plummeted.

Cursing her fate, Morganna could only think how strange it was that her new mind fixated on the oddest of details as it fell; the color of the cars below, how cold the air felt, how the unusual weight on her hand where she had placed the silver ring from Mrs. Ortega’s jewelry box was—

She suddenly felt very foolish. She laughed manically as the ground rushed up to dash her into itself – and missed.

***

Warrick groaned as he woke up. His arms ached as if he’d done a thousand push-ups and the familiar weight of the tentacles’ bracers was missing. He opened his eyes, only to have them assaulted by the intense brightness of the room he was in. He swiftly closed them again.

“Laurel, he’s awake.” He heard Cyn say.

“Warrick?” Laurel’s voice said. “You’re going to be okay. The paramedics got to you before we could, so you’re in the hospital.”

“Did what I think happened just happen?” Warrick asked. “And where are the boys? They were out when…”

“They curled up and unsummoned by the time I got to you.” Cyn said. “Don’t worry, I’ve got their arm thingies right here.” Warrick heard the sound of metal ringing against metal as Cyn apparently held them up.

“And the first question?” Warrick asked with a half smile. He was able to squint through the brightness now.

Cyn sighed. “Yeah, it happened.”

“Where’s Lisa?” He asked.

“That’s what I’d like to know.” Cyn grimaced. “She threw me under a bookcase and jumped out the window. The bright side is, she definitely didn’t go splat.”

Warrick sat up, blinking away the last of the brightness. “She’s gone? We have to find her. She’s dangerous like this!”

“Which is why you shouldn’t be going after her.” Laurel said. “From what Cyn’s told me, Lisa’s got some very complex mojo going on and it’s not your average, run of the mill psionic power.” She shrugged, “If she even is a psionic.”

“What do you mean, ‘if’?” Warrick asked.

“Have you ever heard of someone that can make swords, shoot lightning, throw people and render people unconscious?” Cyn asked. “Lisa did all of that. Well, at least whatever’s in Lisa’s head did.” She bit her lip. “Warrick, that wasn’t even Lisa back there. It’s like some alien thing in her head – it said it was skin-riding her.”

“Like the episode of Malady Place where the demon got inside Winter and made her hit on—“

“Pretty much.” Cyn said.

“So we’re dealing with a demon? Demons are real?”

“We don’t know anything for sure.” Laurel said, “There has got to be some explanation for this—probably involving a new kind of psionic power. The point is there isn’t a lot you can do for her right now – not without first finding out what we’re getting into.”

“She’s our friend, Ms. Brant!” Warrick said, “There has to be something we can do.”

“On top of that, she’s going to come back after us.” Cyn shivered, “She acted surprised as hell when she figured out what psionics are and after she noticed the tentacles, she looked at us like we were in a Petri dish.”

“I know you two want to help her and I know you two think you can handle it.” Laurel sighed. “Look, I know about Lifesavers, Inc, okay?” She didn’t pause for the surprised stares. “I’ve spent a lot of time crawling the web for psionic activity and you three were hard to miss. The fact is, I’m very proud of you for all the good you’ve managed to do.”

“Then why can’t—“Warrick started.

“Because whatever’s going on with Lisa isn’t as simple as a house fire, or a runaway car, nor is she going to be as easy for your guys to deal with as a gang banger or even a rogue psionic – she’s your friend and I know you all don’t want to hurt her.”

“If we’re not going to be able to help her, who will?” Cyn demanded.

Laurel gave her a thoughtful look. “Let me take care of convincing them, okay? Right now, you two should take care of your other friends – Kay is especially shaken up by this. I’ll send her, Juniper and JC in.” She stood, smoothing her skirt out and headed toward the door.

“Convincing them?” Warrick wondered aloud, “You mean…”

Laurel nodded and smiled slightly. “Back when we were in school, they called themselves Chaos and Darkness – those sound like prefect names for prelates, no?”

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Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter.

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