"Ruby, I'm calling bullshit on that," I said calmly while sipping more water. I'd left my dirty clothes in the bathroom, and made a mental note to collect them before leaving the room and stuff them into my suitcase in the closet and to take the time to lock the case. No need to give the witch any more of my stuff to work with while casting her spells. Jeff's tail had stopped twitching so much, but still I could feel Eddie actively lurking behind the small cat's intensely green eyes. Ruby had somehow riled up the deity stuffed into the cat while I'd been showering and cleaning up in the bathroom.
My fair weather friend fluttered her lashes and tried to look demure. It wasn't flying in the least. I waited for her to speak knowing that she couldn't handle lengthy silences. I was one of the only folks around who knew her well, and I could see that she was dying to talk. It wasn't more than a minute when Ruby caved and sputtered, "Sorry, Delilah, I really was worried about you. Archibald called not an hour after you'd gone to bed, waking me up with some tale of your killing a man in the police station. He said it wasn't a troll but some stupid old man and that you'd gone off your rocker after hearing Sam was missing."
She gulped in some air then spewed out with, "I didn't tell him you were staying here and he didn't seem to know we are well-connected. He offered me time off my sentence if I could find you."
A chill chased down my spine. How fucking long had I been asleep and was Archie on his way to collect me now? Jeff growled rather loudly and Ruby jumped a bit on the bed. I could see Eddie was seriously considering flipping magically into his god figure, and that would certainly shut Ruby up. I shook my head slightly while pacing. I wasn't paying close enough attention to Ruby when I was watching Jeff. A deep growl filled the room and the cat sprang over the breakfast tray that Ruby'd brought and set onto the bed, and he landed right smack dab in the middle of her lap. It was then that I noticed she'd started to move her hands in the fluid motion of casting a spell. From the energy rising in the small guest bedroom I knew it to be a dark spell.
Looking directly at Ruby, while seated across from her with just the tray between us, I calmly asked, "Freezing spell, I gather?"
Not that it was a real question, but at least I was trying to maintain my cool -- by a thread, with Jeff still growling, now near her throat. I wasn't sure if either Eddie or Jeff were up to biting a witch, but I wasn't going to bet on either of them having much self-control.
She had yet to speak the final word of her incantation but from the flicker in her eyes I knew I'd scored a direct hit.
Freezing spells aren't naturally dark magic, but from her hands and eyes, I knew she was intending to use the nastier kind, not the fluffy cute chilling one. That dark spell literally solidifies the victim and if not properly removed can result in a horrific death. The victims are completely aware of every second from the moment the spell is cast. All the while they are ice cold frozen yet feeling, tasting, smelling and experiencing their final moments through an ice cold soon-to-be-corpse.
I was saddened by Ruby's intention but she'd been away from me for a long time while getting into her own brand of troubles. During the years, Sam had been shaping my skills and spells, creating for me a stronger set of hunter skills and defenses. I wasn't simply dancing in the dark with the monsters, but instead I was more agile and my physical use of weapons and my own body -- a blade of sorts -- was enhanced with the spells he'd drilled into my very fiber. They were in a gray kind of area -- neither truly white nor black, but rather in between, leaning heavily to the darker side at times.
Once the cat had alerted me to the danger, I'd begun to weave a tighter spell enhanced with a sort of upgrade to my shell -- as in my somewhat what vulnerable skin. Eddie's eyes glowed even brighter green with my flex of power. He'd been watching behind Jeff's eyes as my surge of power clung over me and he was just waiting. Funny how much of a spectator the little deity was, but from all I'd been shown it wasn't exactly much of a shock. The symposium had been made up of various levels of megalomaniac, psychopathic sort of gods and goddesses. They weren't given to very many kindnesses or selfless gestures. For them it was all about building a new base of worshipers.
I carefully reached beneath my clean cotton shirt, and pulled out my pendant that dropped from the center of the thick gold chain I wore around my neck constantly. Usually I kept it nestled between my breasts against my skin even when taking a shower and sleeping. The gemstone in the middle glowed while I waited to see what Ruby was going to do. I really didn't like using the gemstone to filter my magic, but when up against someone with Ruby's background, and her current fascination with the darker spells, I felt it was a smart move. That and I still wasn't sure how far out Archie was, or even if he was sending others to come get me. That wasn't a good feeling, but it was a serious consideration.
She looked at me with a wry smile, yet I could see the calculating thoughts perking behind her eyes. She'd seen my pendant now and then over the years, but wasn't precisely clued in on what I did with it. I wasn't one to share information casually, and she knew better to ask, since I'd never volunteered any information in all the years she'd known me. Eddie's gaze caught mine and I could see I'd surprised him. I guess he hadn't realized how I protected myself. I rarely pulled out the stone because it wasn't necessary most of the time.
Ruby's dropped her eyes and said, "Well, shit. I guess I'll have to talk now."
I was puzzled, because I hadn't realized that was an option. I was fairly sure she was planning on zapping my ass into an icy hunter Popsicle and delivering me to Archie relatively quickly to lessen her sentence in San Diego. The cat leaped back to my side of the bed and head-butted my side. I allowed Jeff onto my lap without thinking of Eddie entwined with Jeff's spirit, closer to me than I cared for with the energy levels rolling around the room.
Not responding aloud to Ruby, I mentally finished the tightening of the armor that surrounded me, and felt Jeff pull some of my energy off and wrap his furry form in the spell. I allowed it because I did like the cat even if Eddie was pissing me off. Eddie probably could have protected the cat, but at the same time Eddie could just as easily slip out of the cat in a blue-silver flash of power and disappear, leaving the cat to suffer the consequences of any of his ill-thought out actions. Ruby's eyes grew wider as she could sense if not actually see what had happened.
"Damn it, Delilah! What have you been learning?" She couldn't seem to resist asking while her skin tone went ivory white. All the sun she'd picked up while in San Diego hanging out in open aired bars and on the beaches disappeared from her, leaving her pale. The blood rushed to her face as I continued to stare at her not answering her question.
She didn't know that it was taking every inch of my control to not snap her neck. I wanted to know if Archie was on his way or if she was supposed to freeze me and take me to him. Either way time was ticking and I wasn't getting any closer to an answer.
She anticipated my first question and bit out, "I'm supposed to find out everything you know before dropping you off at the local office, still frozen."
Arching an eyebrow, I tugged the pendant up and twirled it in my fingers letting the center gem catch the light and cast a prism along the walls of the room. Pushing a bit through the gold chain, the movement was then accompanied by a slight sound like machinery humming in the background. Ruby's eyes nearly popped out of her face as she figured out what I'd cast out. It was a very high end truth spell that used the harmonics and light from the stone to pull out any and all truths while not allowing lies to pass the victim's lips. I say 'victim' because the smallest of falsehoods resulted in the sound growing louder inside the person lying. This meant after a few lies that were told by the victim, the person's brain was pretty much tapioca pudding for all purposes and not nearly as solid. There was a flash of fear that crossed Ruby's pale features before she said, "Please stop, Delilah. I may not survive."
The gem flashed a bit and the sound increased slightly.
"Fine," she spit out with venom lacing the word, "I don't think you will kill me. But I lie so often I don't know how to stop." Again the sound increased. I could hear it through the gold but not in my head. The cat settled into my lap and began to purr softly. Eddie liked this parlor trick, I could tell without even glancing at him. He was waiting patiently and seemed to enjoy the show. Ruby had a thin spot of blood beneath her nose that dropped onto the fairly untouched breakfast tray she'd used as an excuse to worm her way in the bedroom and zap me. I finished off the water, thankful she hadn't injected anything in the liquid that I could tell. From the cat's gentle nudge of his head against my arm I felt assured it wasn't tainted. I watched without stopping the spell. Her mind was trying to work around the restrictions of the spell to no avail. Something inside me dropped down into the abyss of numbness, and I knew it was the pain I had seeing the difficulty my friend was having trying not to lie to me. My heart was cracking slightly at the knowledge that our friendship was never going to survive this day.
Ruby's face had grown old before my eyes as the sound continued to gnaw its way into her head. The noise directed only at her would continue until she crashed or I stopped the magic. I had no intention of stopping anything at this point and felt sad by my decision. Crossroads were a part of the landscape of a hunter and the temptations were great. The peril was often ignored by some, and they paid with their souls, if not just their lives. I'd been trained far too long to fall prey to such a bad decision. Friends weren't easily kept in my line of business. I craved with a hot passion to be free of this choice but wasn't to be. Ruby had used really bad judgment, and for that I was stuck on the course until the end.
"Archibald doesn't know you are here. He knows that I knew where you were last night and that you left in the middle of the night. He told me he'd turn a blind eye to anything I did in order to find you. Delilah, he gave me Council-supported approval to use my magic with no consequences." The tone Ruby used was soft and pleading while her eyes danced a different tune. Yet not a word she said was a lie, and for that I wanted to go kill Archie. Ruby had gotten around her self-absorbed morals and hadn't hesitated to dive back into the pool of darkness of her magic. It could easily cost her everything -- not just our friendship, but her very life.