A Virga Mystery: BALANCING ACT
ACT 3a: OF LYCANS AND PROPHECIES
Melissa’s drive back to the motel had been pretty uneventful. Once she had arrived back in the parking lot, she turned off the car, pulled her cell phone back out of her jeans pocket, switched it on, and called Trixie’s number.
“Hi Missy,” the redhead said in delight as soon as she picked up. “James get to you in time with the garlic?”
“So it was you who sent him.”
“No, he psychically knew you were in trouble. You two have that special bond.”
Melissa sighed. “Trixie…”
“Well, what did you expect me to say? Anyway, how is it that in all our conversations you failed to mention that James is somehow a competent idiot? That’s a real interesting mix. For the record, I’ve told him he can do better than you.”
“Trixie, he’s not your type.”
“Oh, sure, immediately leap to thinking that I hit on him.”
“I bet you at least did your stupid ‘look at my chest’ pose.”
“Stupid, hmm? What if I said James looked, meaning he’s a typical guy? B-t-w, green’s not a good colour on you, Missy.”
Melissa leaned in against the steering wheel. “Let’s table this. I need you to bring some items over to his and Amy’s room, ASAP.”
“I’m already here. How about you simply bring this stuff to me?”
The brunette witch blinked. “What are you doing in James’ room?”
“He wanted me to protect Amy while he was gone. Little thing called chivalry. Remind me to fill you in on the concept.”
I’d once suggested to Melissa that if someone was being deliberately annoying around her, she should simply count down from five in her head to avoid saying a rather blunt remark, thus causing the situation to escalate further. I suspect that’s why she remained silent for a moment at this point.
Come to think, Melissa pauses like that a lot when Trixie is around.
“Fine, well, I’m parked in front of that room with James asleep in the passenger seat,” Melissa said at last. “So we might as well be talking in person.”
“YOU called ME,” Trixie reminded.
Melissa simply hung up. She then dropped the phone onto the floor of the car and reached for the door handle – which is when the rear window shattered from the large rock that had been thrown at it.
The witch quickly spun, and she admitted to me that her heart briefly leapt into her throat, over concern that the mirror had been destroyed prior to our agreed upon time. It had fallen over, but still seemed intact.
Unfortunately, with her attention being on the mirror, she was unable to defend against the long, hairy arm that reached in through the shattered glass and grabbed for her throat from behind. “Melissssssssa,” a voice hissed.
“Urk!” was all Melissa could manage to vocalize.
Her mind immediately went to work sizing up the situation. She didn’t have enough force to break the grip. Her better spells required a focusing phrase, which was currently impossible. I was obviously not in a position to help, her phone was on the floor, and she wasn’t in the best position to strike back at her aggressor. Moreover, while slamming her hand down on the horn might attract the attention of someone – like Trixie – who could help, it might also wake up Amy, which was also not in Melissa’s best interests.
At this point, I will mention that there is a spell, unique to every witch, known as ‘ultima ratio’ (or ‘last resort’). They can invoke it in times of dire emergency.
I say it’s unique, because it might involve vanishing, or explosions, or growing a third arm, or whatever said witch has previously decided should happen if the situation is really as bad as all that. It also effectively renders the witch incapable of casting spells for quite some time afterwards, hence why it’s a last resort spell.
Of course, Melissa’s situation here was, in fact, not as bad as all that – I mostly bring it up at this point so that it’s not a surprise later, and to give you a sense of how bad things may yet become.
What Melissa did do at this point was reach up and rake her fingernails over the hairy hand that had her by the throat.
When the hand flinched, she was able to subvocalize a particular thought.
When the car then caught fire, the hand flinched even more, to the point where she could rasp out, “Fulgur.”
Melissa tapping her fingers against the hand now sent a sharp electric shock through it. By the time her opponent had processed the fact that the fire had no heat, he was jerking back and twitching from her electrical attack anyway. (Illusion, Melissa has said, can be a very powerful tool. At the very least, it can provide one with the second or two that’s needed to think up something better.)
Melissa wasted no time in kicking her car door open and getting out, in order to put herself in a more defensible position.
Her opponent – a lycan, as mentioned earlier, so essentially a wolfman in jeans – was able to backhand her before she was fully prepared.
Melissa’s body flew back onto the hood of the car, but she rolled with it, landing in front of the vehicle on one knee. Trixie poked her head around the motel room curtains at about this point, having heard something. Her eyes went wide, and keeping the drapes pulled back at least slightly, in order to still be able to see Amy, she hurried outside.
“Do you two mind?” Trixie quipped at Melissa as she opened the door, and then tried to close it as quietly as possible. “People at this motel are trying to sleep.”
“Not now, Trixie,” was Melissa’s only response, slowly getting to her feet, eyes fixated on her attacker.
The lycan, for his part, had also paused to size up the situation, seeing as he’d now lost the advantage of surprise.
“Lycan,” Trixie said, a mite reduntantly, to fill the ensuing silence. “Different from a werewolf, silver doesn’t apply. You’ll have to –”
“I know how to fight a lycan, Trix,” Melissa said, her tone clipped.
Trixie hushed. Whenever Melissa started getting terse, you knew she was serious. (Conversely, Trixie tends to use full names when she gets serious, as she likes using nicknames as a matter of course. Go figure.)
For your sake though, assuming you are unaware, I’ll mention that the main difference between a werewolf and a lycan is that the former requires a full moon to transform, while the latter has more control. There are other differences, but, well, the internet is actually not as wholly inaccurate on this particular distinction as it is on others, so you can check into them yourself if you like.
Melissa and the lycan continued their staring contest for a few moments more.
“So,” Melissa ventured. “I’m willing to go our separate ways here. Though I’d recommend some silver sulfadiazine, should help you balance out your control issues, you’re liable to get in trouble looking like that.”
“I won’t be in trouble once I keep you from restoring the balance, Melisssssa Viiiirga,” the lycan retorted at last. “Very arrogant of you to put your real name on the motel ledger.”
“I’ve been told I can be arrogant,” Melissa admitted.
“Yeah, I’ve told her that,” Trixie chimed in.
“Is this not directly connected to the whole vampyre thing with Amy then?” Melissa continued.
“Doesn’t seem like it,” Trixie lamented, when the lycan simply stared. “The movies have lied to us again, not everything interconnects.” She shook her head sadly, her twintails knocking against her shoulders.
The lycan’s eyes narrowed. “You two must think you’re pretty smart.”
“IQ of 151,” the redhead said proudly.
“Must you always bring that up?” Melissa said in annoyance.
“Oh, right, cuz as you’ve told me, James never flaunted his intelligence. His apparent complete absence of such, you seem to have become love numbed towards.”
“Don’t end a sentence with a preposition.”
“Shut up,” the lycan said in disbelief.
“Make me,” Trixie shot back.
The wolf form lunged at them. Or more specifically, at Melissa, though he took a side swipe at Trixie too.
The redhead was able to simply step back; Melissa’s dodge had to be a bit more artistic, but seeing as she’d anticipated the lycan’s move, she was even able to reach out and grab one of the motel’s exterior deck chairs to use as a shield afterwards.
“MAKE me?” she said to Trixie in disbelief.
“Sorry, hadn’t parsed it was him saying that,” the younger witch mumbled.
“I’ll lead him on a chase, meet you at the pool,” Melissa concluded, as the lycan managed to rip the chair from her hands. The pool was one of the outdoor types that these motels sometimes have.
“But…” Trixie began, gesturing at the motel room, before blinking and nodding in realization. She pulled out her computing device again, punching something in quickly with her thumbs. “Rixi, protective scrolls,” she said.
“All right,” her own voice replied agreeably. “Accessing.”
One light show later, and Trixie was quickly thumbing some self-adhesive papers to the motel room’s door jamb and window.
At the same time, Melissa had made a run for her own motel room. It wasn’t, in fact, her destination, but she had hoped the lycan would believe that to be the case. She had already concluded that she wouldn’t be able to outpace him on foot – wolves are damn fast – and that running any sort of confusing zigzag pattern would only serve to slow herself down.
As expected, he did jump in front of her, so as her own foot touched the ground, she intoned, “Salio!”
As her foot came up, she shot at least ten feet into the air. With her momentum still carrying her forwards, she easily overshot her opponent, and was able to continue running.
With a snarl, the lycan turned to catch up again, this time passing her and blocking passage to the room she had booked. Which was pretty much what she’d hoped.
She turned to the side before reaching the lycan, grabbing the long push broom that someone had left next to a small pile of debris, outside an unoccupied room. After giving it a quick enchantment, she grabbed the handle, hopped up onto it, and rode it off in the other direction, like a segway. (I believe I mentioned this is how she uses brooms to travel.)
With an exclamation of annoyance, the wolf followed, but now at least they were moving at roughly the same speed.
“Hurry it up, Trix,” Melissa remarked as she came within earshot of my hotel room again.
“I’m keeping James’ current girlfriend safe,” Trixie retorted as she stepped back to activate her scrolls. “You’d be blamed if Amy came to harm.”
“That girl’s not his girlfriend yet,” Melissa was heard to mumble as she continued to ride her push broom through the parking lot.
I hesitate to point out here that no effort was made to actually protect my slumbering form in the front seat of the car. I’m not sure what that says about my witch associates, or about me, but I choose to believe they felt I was in no danger, or could handle myself. Somehow.
The lycan continued his pursuit of Melissa, obviously his primary target. She continued to glide on her broom in the dim light being cast from both the moon and the neon sign for the motel, until she reached the access to the pool.
The gate was locked, but public property has never stopped a witch before. Once inside, she was confronted with the fact that it had not yet been opened for the season, and remained totally drained.
This did not bode well for her initial idea of getting the wolf wet, and possibly altering the chlorine content to be something rather more aggravating to her adversary.