A Virga Mystery: BALANCING ACT
ACT 3b: OF LYCANS AND PROPHECIES
Tapping the handle of the push broom, Melissa continued her trajectory right out into the middle of the empty outdoor pool. This meant she was hovering where the water level might have been, were there any water present. She then spun around in the air to face the lycan, who for his part was forced to stop short at the poolside, and again reconsider his options.
“Clever,” the wolfman yielded. “But remaining like that requires concentration, which will falter eventually.”
“Yes, well, gives us time to talk about why you’re so against restoring supernatural balance. Along with why you’re targeting me when there’s plenty more witches doing this on a grander scale,” Melissa said. “Am I an appetizer before them?”
“Surely you’re aware of the Prophecy. You’re the Chosen One, Melissssa Viiiirga,” it countered with a hiss.
Melissa stared. “Prophecy. How special. Okay, I’m listening.”
“I’m done talking.”
The lycan moved to grab a rather hefty concrete vase, no doubt used to provide some décor to the area, which he then threw at the brunette.
Melissa was forced to do a quick dodge, as she not only attempted to avoid the object but the splinters of the vase after it shattered against the far side of the pool. The wolf used this opportunity to jump at her.
Melissa saw no alternative.
She hopped off the broom, hefting it by the handle as she fell towards the pool bottom. She then angled up the hard wooden end holding the bristles, mentally calculating her drop in relation to the way the lycan was twisting in the air to try and land on her, then with as much force as she could muster, she jabbed it up between the lycan’s legs, hitting at the crotch of his jeans. (Sometimes, Melissa conceded, you can’t avoid the cheap shots.)
Her opponent let out a bit of a whine and his trajectory shifted, as Melissa released her grip on the push broom, calling out “Salio!” once again.
She landed on the pool bottom with both feet together, grimacing as her weight followed, bending her knees to try reduce the shock, as the spell helped her spring back up.
Know that repeated use of the same spell does tend to reduce its effectiveness, at least in the short term. (Magick tends to reward the more creative individual, rather than penalize across the board regardless of what gets cast.)
As such, Melissa didn’t spring up as high as before, this time only just managing to catch the middle rung of the ladder for the deep end of the pool, once at the height of her arc.
She looked down, noting that the wolf was apparently trying to block out whatever pain he was feeling, and was already standing up. He again jumped for her. After doing another quick mental calculation, she pulled back her leg and delivered a kick to his face before he could grab hold of either her, or the pool ladder.
He did manage to leave a bit of a scratch on her leg for his efforts, owing to his outstretched arms.
Melissa declined to answer Trixie’s remark, but did accept the redhead’s extended arm, helping her to get up out of the pool that much faster.
“Time for Plan B, containment,” Melissa said tersely. “Go to the opposite side.”
“What was Plan A?” Trixie mused, even as she quickly moved to comply, hopping nimbly over the low diving board at the head of the pool on the way.
The wolf, for his part, had apparently decided that it would be easier to get out by heading down to the shallow end, as he was now doing so. However, the couple of falls and hits meant he wasn’t moving at top speed.
Melissa began a quick chant here, and I won’t transcribe all of the latin, but the gist of it was a containment grid that the lycan would not be able to pass while in wolf form. Not without having to endure a lot of pain.
As Melissa finished, she looked up to link eyes with Trixie, who was by now crouching directly opposite her. “Initimus!” the two witches chorused, slapping their hands down onto the pool tiles in tandem.
The tiles lit up sequentially around the poolside, like a glowing rectangle. In less than a second, the whole perimeter had been covered, and then beams shot out laterally to cover the area as well. They passed right through the torso of the wolf as he was emerging.
The lycan howled, even as his transformation suddenly reversed, leaving what looked to be a forty-something bearded male yelling out in its wake. Said male then fell back beneath the surface of the glow, leaving him sitting in the shallow end, glaring up at the witches.
The glow itself faded after a moment, but the barrier remained.
Melissa tucked some hair back behind her ear. “Okay, we’ll question him later,” she concluded, expelling a long breath. “For now, back to James and the vampyre.”
“Worried about your James, hmmm?” Trixie inquired, standing back up and tugging on her short skirt, one hopes to make sure she was staying decent.
“No. Maybe. He’s not my James. Shut up.”
The younger witch smirked as she followed Melissa back out of the pool area. “Guessing you’re going into Amy’s dream,” Trixie reasoned. “Can I come too? I haven’t seen James’ bizarre form of incompetence against an adversary yet. And after your complaints about how I’m doing things different, I’m curious.”
“I wasn’t complaining. And I said shut up.”
“Uh huh. You know, it’s possible he likes redheads more. Not worried about a little witch competition, are you?”
Melissa whirled. “Trix, for the last time, I said… ohhhhh, hell-o!” Where the ‘o’ was very much tacked on, so that she could pretend she hadn’t come close to swearing.
“No, you said…” But then Trixie’s voice trailed off too, noting the expression on Melissa’s face.
She spun as well, looking back towards the motel’s pool. Where the man who had been a wolf was climbing out amid a silent crackling of energy, which lit up his face and revealed the way his teeth were clenched and his eyes were practically bulging out of their sockets as he braved whatever their barrier was doing to him.
“Sooo, you know how to fight a lycan, huh?” Trixie said. Humour was something of a defence mechanism for her.
“That should have worked,” was all Melissa could say.
Trixie hesitated. “It really should have,” she yielded, as the lycan (in human form) finally completely surfaced, collapsing back onto the deck by the side of the pool.
“He’s insane,” Melissa diagnosed. “You don’t have any new tricks hidden in your so-called hammerspace for insane lycans, do you?”
“Not so much, no.”
Melissa’s jaw tightened as the shock value wore off, and her instincts started to take over. “Fine then. Another plan forms. It involves using the mirror I brought back with me. Which means I’ll need you to tell me the moment James awakens from his spell-induced slumber, because I can’t invoke the mirror safely until I know he’s handled the vampyre spirit.”
Trixie blinked. “James and the vampyre? You think he can manage that on his own?”
“He handled a poltergeist three months ago with only minimal assistance from me.”
The redhead rolled her eyes. “Oh, right, right, the poltergeist story again. Fine, I’ll let you know when he’s conscious,” she finished, hurrying back towards the car.
Once there, Trixie later said she took the opportunity to peek in through the curtains at the slumbering Amy as well, to verify that the dream world was still both active and stable.
Melissa looked around for something new that she might be able to use as a weapon. She didn’t see anything, but then resigned herself to the fact that if the lycan could withstand all the punishment she’d thrown at him so far, brandishing a club wasn’t liable to dissuade him either.
With a few quick murmurs and gestures, she began to work on what she determined to be her best possible defence, a moveable shield. These actually work better than simply enclosing yourself in a six-sided box, as their smaller size requires much less energy to activate and maintain. Though their use does require the caster to have a sense of where the next attack is coming from.
Once completed, Melissa extended her non-dominant hand, the magick circle appearing at her palm to her eyes alone. She then looked back up at the lycan. He had managed to at least partially transform back into wolf form, and was now about ten paces away, moving slowly but steadily, still sizing her up.
“You know,” she began. “Maybe we can still talk about –”
It lunged, slamming against her invisible shield with such force that she had to take a step back.
“Or not,” Melissa sighed in defeat.
What followed was a series of clawings, poundings, and attempted bitings. No finesse at all, Melissa later noted, and no imagination either. The lycan apparently didn’t even consider capturing the nearby Trixie to use as bait, not that such a ruse would have panned out any better.
Melissa did have to expand the diameter of her shield a couple of times though, and she suspected that, had the lycan been at full strength, it wouldn’t have held out. Soon she began to grow concerned that maybe I’d decided to wait in Amy’s dream for her to get there.
“Trixie,” she called out after maybe two minutes of the lycan’s mauling attack. “Maybe we’ll get you to go into that dream after all.”
Trixie brightened. “Seriously?”
“Well, something needs to break up this stalemate, before we end up with a much bigger problem,” she shouted.
“He’s awake,” Trixie called out at that moment.
“Arcesso!” Melissa stated, Charlie’s mirror in her mind’s eye.
She extended her non-shield hand in the direction of the car as his mirror flew out through the broken rear window. The wolf’s momentary distraction at the sight of the object flying in towards Melissa even gave her the reprieve she needed to catch it.
“Honestly,” she continued. “If there’s one thing more annoying than unexpected vampyres, it’s when they’re accompanied by lycans.”
Apparently deciding that the mirror wasn’t a new threat, the wolf jumped at Melissa again.
The witch dispelled her shield and brandished the mirror in both hands, calling out something rapid fire. Whatever she said meant the lycan’s jump took him right inside the mirror, and out of our plane of existence.
Melissa immediately smashed said mirror onto the ground, breaking the glass, and then she moved to stand on it, jerking the frame out of alignment. There was a long sighing sound, not unlike the air being let out of a tire, and for a moment a white haired image appeared, hovering over the debris.
This, I believe, was the Somnalibus. His image then vanished (I may have imagined a smile), and all was silence. Except for the sound of Melissa’s heavy breathing.
I waited a beat before exiting the car, looking first to Trixie. “I’ve missed something.”
“No kidding,” Trixie chirped back. “Man, you just can’t stop yourself from saying idiotic things, can you. It’s actually fascinating.”
Melissa trudged back to the car, looking tired, rumpled and sweaty, which I found simultaneously worrisome, given how she’s usually more proper, as well as bizarrely erotic, for precisely the same reason.
“Tell me you and Amy handled the vampyre spirit,” she said, more a statement of what she wanted to be true than an actual question.
“Yeah. Well, the Somnalibus did,” I amended.
“Good,” Melissa said with a sigh.
I then glanced towards the shattered mirror on the pavement of the parking lot. “Your, um, lycan dealt with?”
She shrugged. “If that went right, he’s trapped in the Culicinae realm with the vampyres. If not, well, at least he’s not here any more.”
“Ah. Well, good.”
The two of us linked eyes. Melissa’s cheeks were already flushed, and I suspect mine got darker too, at the intensity of her gaze. I cleared my throat, searching for the right words. “This is probably going to sound weird. But I’ve missed this.”
The corners of her mouth twitched. “Only the cases then?”
I slowly shook my head. It’s possible my gaze wandered over her form.
“So you’re coming back.” Again, almost a question, but more a statement of hopeful truth.
I paused for a moment to make sure I meant it. “Yeah. If you’ll have me.”
“Oh, heck yeah,” Melissa repeated, sighing again. “I’d much rather bring you to dinner with my parents tomorrow, instead of Trixie.”
“Right. I can underst– wait, what?”