Chapter 28 – Spiritus Rector
Previously on Witchlighter: Paige tried to juggle her responsibilities of being a mother, Whitelighter, wife and the center of attention on her birthday, but the distraction of her old flare Richard appearing and Billie traveling through time with Cameron to the Old Age of Valen, her day is hardly celebrated. Paige and Henry argue over Richard's presence in their home, sending Henry storming out of the house and Billie returns to the present time with a book containing the ritual that will kill the Valen-infested Rose...if Billie is willing to die herself.
August 2nd, 2007 (continues a short time from the previous chapter).
Billie closed the door of her bedroom behind her, deciding to change into something a little more comfortable than the attire of Valen's minions from past centuries ago. She struggled out of the tight, leather pants after kicking off the boots and slipped on her fitting blue jeans. She next found a sleeveless black shirt from a couple nights ago, too overworked with all things magical to even drop a shirt into her hamper. She kicked the demon-wear into a corner of her room, took a good look of the boots she just popped off and decided that they were both comfortable for battle and appropriate; this wasn't a war she wanted to fight in heeled-boots.
The sorceress walked over to her bureau, littered with eyeliner, blush, a jeweled wand-rod she borrowed from Magic School's stock to practice some enchantments, colorful candles, and a large mirror which leaned against the wall behind it. She took a hold of the sandalwood candle, willing it to light with a simple mental spell amongst sorceresses, choosing to exercise her powers and watched as a small flame was born on the wick, slowly drawing out the relaxing scent. Billie placed the candle back down, wondering what her next step should be.
Surely it should involve reading through the instructions on what was needed to vanquish Valen, maybe even take out Rose in the process, but these were her last hours being alive. She was willing to save her on-loan family and friends from this primeval demoness, but there was still too much she never accomplished; she never graduated college, never got to grow into her witch-hood far enough to train younger generations herself, she never got to express her feelings to him...
There were questions she often felt haunted by, hoping to learn that the answers she was getting were all truthful and nothing less:
Did she ever truly redeem herself to Paige and the sisters for betraying them during their Ultimate Battle? Has she saved enough witches and innocents to be truly and fully forgiven? Did she accomplish this when she aided in rescuing Magic School, guaranteeing a promising education for future generations? Or maybe she was forgiven when she took over as Head Witch in the Mitchell-Matthews manor during Paige's pregnancy? She knew her betrayal could never be forgotten, but she didn't want any of them to doubt forgiving her, and maybe she could only prove her loyalty through this sacrifice.
Too many thoughts bounced back in forth in her head, creating much traffic to moving forward with preparing the ritual while there was still time. All it took was Rose starting the battle before they were ready and they'd all be dead. This motivated Billie to rush back to her bed where the tome on Valen's history and vanquish was recorded down, listing her as the destined being to take her out. She sat cross-legged on the bed, telekinetically flipping the cover open as she subconsciously braided away at her hair, unconcerned by personal gain. The first page read:
Rosswell the Thaumaturge's Volume
of the Nefariously Regal Beings; Sixth Edition.
The pages flipped backwards twice, leaving a listing of the many demons recorded down, many of them taking on the names King, Queen, Prince, Sovereign, Dynast, Overlord... Then she saw one of the latest entries; Valen the Valorous, Queen of Demons*. Billie rolled her eyes at the kind of demon or sorcerer or whatever this Rosswell guy was who actually used an asterisk, but decided not to discredit him for obviously knowing enough about the Underworld's many hierarchies; he had to have been beyond his years to bear such wisdom. She scanned for the reference point and found it on the next page.
*The majority of the demons Valen governs are of her own personal construct, her own empire; they were created to serve her, ensouled with old spirits to make her demons wiser than the average, therefore capable of fighting with greater conscience – tenacious, spirited soldiers.
Just needs to be noted that Valen is far from Queen of all Demons; merely the ones she's created and others she's recruited.
The talk of spirits made sense with what was being asked of Billie to defeat Valen; after all, her power hadn't been seen in centuries and this marked her as the one destined to champion the Valen-infested Rose; two evils with hopefully one stone. The braid in Billie's hair was going thicker, much like a rope, all a sign of her stress. And with another psychic thought, the pages rapidly flipped until Valen's entry appeared. An illustration of sapphire eyes were drawn underneath her name which was highlighted in an image of navy-colored smoke; the true essence of the demon, witnessed by Billie when she saw the Reaper burying her into the Living Grave. Below the image was a passage, speaking of the demon herself.
As demons entered into a new generation of black magic, the dark time where the Underworld would be counseled under one leader to be known as the Source of all Evil, there have been many covetous beings demanding this throne by declaration of bloodline and power. While many of these candidates battled each other out for the victory of being Hell's commanding voice, demons such as Valen (amongst others) bore the strength to eradicate the power-hungry demons on the nights when the phases of the moon and fearing stars cried that her power was at its zenith. Despite how much power was awarded to the Source through the dead words of the original Grimoire, the matriarchal Valen oversaw demons of her own creation and dominated many realms with her empire.
In the 1300's, Valen took flight to the Rynex Realm where she peacefully offered the demon Broncian, the realm's Overseer, to relinquish ownership of Rynex itself and when he declined, the Queen of Demons was forced to challenge him in combat. In a battle that lasted six unnatural moon phases, witnesses and the demon herself spoke of how she managed a Mind Lingering Spell (for full details, refer to page 245) which gave her an opportunity to deliver her cosmic sapphire blast as his attention was forcibly focused on his enemy's baleful eyes. After the Queen championed her victory through a demon of near equal strength of her own in his own realm where he was supported by the psychic magicks in the air, this gave Valen the confidence in her power to move forward through time in collecting more realms, and therefore, more soldiers for the inevitable final battle, the War to End All.
It is here, where the demon became recognized as Valen the Valorous, Queen of the Demons for she was an admiring exemplar of being both a soldier and leader...
Billie stopped reading for a moment, absorbing knowledge on Valen's power and how Rose could intend to use it. She had no idea when this War to End All would be, but she knew that after tonight, neither Valen nor Rose would live to see the final conflict. The sorceress continued to read on, fear carrying through her body as she learned of the demon's bloody history and what this could mean for her tonight; she didn't want to be flayed alive for an eternity like the dark witch Rhod who took a moment too long to perform a counter-curse against Valen nor did she wish to be melted into a chest-plate like Reyn (a multidimensional sorceress, obscurely known) who would forever protect the heart of the enemy she wished to utilize death upon by altering pivotal moment's in the demon's life.
Even with her coveted projection power, an ability she hadn't ever used to its full potential before, would it be enough to destroy this demon? Demons much wiser than her could only bury Valen and this only carried the demon's rage to new levels, and Billie struggled believing that her little 'ol self would be the one to strike her dead, prophesized or not.
After reading several more pages, learning some of Valen's battle tactics, successful victories for realms with remarkable power, and her ownership of several artifacts that could be used to unleash chaotic demons, Billie reached the end of the historic passages and reached the colored portrait of the body Valen was inhabiting; the image drawn didn't necessarily respect the same demon Billie had seen as the girl wasn't as pale or as stunning as portrayed here. Deciding not to analyze the picture, Billie flipped the page once more and saw that the entry was done. There was no more to be said on Valen and the book was moving onto a hyrda-looking demon who's eight heads were inconsistent with the other; eagle, serpent, lion, panther, dragon, phoenix, one of Man, and the last being that of a three-eyed demon. Whatever it was, Billie didn't want to ever compete against it and it wasn't her lasting concern for the moment.
Where was the ritual to conquer Valen? The reason she was given this book. Before she could freak out, a knock cut her off and Paige entered the room saying, "You look like you could use a break. It's just one of the oldest demons we're ever fighting, no need to look as if you have the weight of the world on your tiny shoulders." She grinned, sitting down on the bed with her friend and the demonic tome in between them both.
"The ritual that's supposed to be in here isn't in here," Billie replied, smacking the pages of the books. "What the hell was that sorceress playing at? She says she wants and needs me to vanquish Valen and she forgets to leave me the How-To?"
"Calm down, it's going to be alright," Paige lied convincingly, truly terrified herself now. The confidence Billie had when she returned to this time was washed away, her hope in being favored in this battle destroyed by a simple lie. "There are other solutions, things we haven't tried or explored yet and-"
"No, Paige, this had to be it! I saw how hard those demons were working to save their own necks, how badly this chick pleaded with me to do what must be done, well aware that Valen was going to eventually escape. This was prophesized, probably written in stone somewhere, and what I need now is the ritual that was promised to me to be inside this book!" Billie shouted and the words flew out of her mouth and gracefully descended down onto Rosswell's Volume, echoing her command.
The tome shone cobalt for a brief instant, then turned sour in color into a bruised purple. Both Billie and Paige just watched the magic affect the book and an aged sheet grew out from in between the pages and fell onto the image of the hydra-like demon, still. Instantly, Billie knew this to be the ritual, but focused onto the note on the top.
If you're reading this, you're fortunate that I'm still among the living, but very much hidden from all of you. In conducting the ritual to vanquish Valen, many factors were taken into consideration. Where can we find the power to not only match hers, but trump it? Who could champion such a cruel monster? And then, visions were witnessed, explored in great detail, and we found you.
We must admit, it wasn't as we were expecting. And for this, I hide, because there are doubts amongst choruses of greater doubts that you'll emerge from your battle alive, and that's not even including the sacrifice being asked of you. We're not sure you'll make it that far, but should you, that would mean that one day I could come out of my hiding from ruins so deep and unreachable that Death itself can't find me.
Quite frankly, I'm bored.
But none of that matters at the moment seeing as I'd rather be bored then burned into an infinity of pain by Valen's power. My existence allows this enchantment to remain concealed from the eyes of Evil, specifically Valen should this tome fall unto her cruel, punishment-dealing hands. The ritual and I are connected, just as you will be when you are amongst the spirits, bearing the voice to kill their Queen. Your power showing you these words is a display of the strength you wield, unlocking my very own sorcery that is forgotten to demonkind.
You are the sorceress. You will fight Valen the Valorous, Hell-Queen of Demons, and together, you will die.
Possibly as you're waiting for the elixir to finish cooling, you'd like to say your goodbyes.
My visions show that you have allies, dare I say, friends?
I'm aware this may seem a bit out of touch for a being of my nature, but thank you. We need strong leaders in the Underworld to eradicate your kind, but if they know no bounds, then we just have a tyrant at hand.
Should you fail, Valen will own all in due time. Be our resistance.
Billie's breath remained held within her, her heart pounding with activity at just how much was expected of her; the lengths that were taken just so she could destroy another. Little did she know that she was to be a savior of this degree...and knowing it now, terrified her. The weight of the world was pressing down on her fragile shoulders, attempting to bury her into itself, ravenous for the blood containing the power to destroy a tremendous Evil. Billie knew the world itself couldn't contain Valen's essence, only proven by her unearthing and-
"Billie?" Paige called out, snapping her fingers to awaken the zoned out sorceress. "To use a lame cliché, though lamely appropriate in our line of work, you look like you've just seen a ghost."
Choosing her words carefully (and mournfully), she quietly replied, "Not yet." She covered this up with a cough, then carried on, "Uh, sorry, the ritual's here now. I projected it to show itself it looks like. We have a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it. It has to be done in the witching hour and we can't risk not doing this tonight. Rose said that Valen gets strong with each passing moon."
"With Avo and Valen running loose amongst a sea of other demons who have our heads on the chopping block, tomorrow's definitely no guarantee," Paige replied, rising from the bed and reached down for the book. "So, the ritual. What do you need us to do?"
"Paige, I'm not the leader, you know," Billie said, uncomfortable. "I'm just the sidekick who's finally given a bit of spotlight, but the show is still very much yours."
"Well, enjoy your episode now and show everyone what you got," Paige joked, then urged her forward with a twirl of her hand. "This is your battle, you're the one marked to take out Valen. What do you need of me and everyone in this house? Something tells me that we're going to have to celebrate my glamorous existence at a more magically convenient time."
"Sorry that your birthday sucks," Billie apologized, distracting herself as long as possible from her dying hour. "Thirty is a big one, it shows that you've, you know, lived a long time."
"You sure know how to make a girl feel young, Billie," Paige playfully scolded, slightly insecure of her age though grateful of surviving with the killing-demon casualties.
"That's not what I meant, sorry. It's just, I mean, you've done so much. You had a career which you gave up to become one of the strongest witches of all time and you kicked demon ass and got married and had kids and kicked more demon ass and come a couple days, you're going to kick even more ass. You're leaving behind a legacy when you kick the bucket," Billie said, failing to remain upbeat through her babble-attempt. "You've done a lot in so little time. You should be proud."
"I am, but it's not the end. None of us can speak like that, so let's break down this ritual," Paige clapped her hands, eager to prepare the saving grace against Valen provided from her traitorous followers. "What can we do?"
Billie studied the ingredients on the page, very complicated and near foreign to her well based knowledge, but the spirit inside her guided her through the steps she didn't know, adding to her improved magical knowledge. "I personally need to focus my energies, but if you could them get started on..."
Needing a break from all the activity occurring inside her home, from the beginning of where this very long day started, Paige brought her midnight blue Book of Shadows outside with her, reading under the backyard's foyer light. The winds roared with fury, hardly allowing her the chance to read entries on a couple of the arcane ingredients Piper was mixing into the potion, supplied by Cameron's men back at his base of operations, but she just needed this time away from everything going on inside.
Phoebe was materializing and dematerializing through use of Coop's old ring all over the place, collecting necessary altar instruments and weapons she knew to be necessary for the ritual's success and victory over the demons; a couple of Piper's attempts at preparing this unorthodox potion caused several misfires, ringing through everyone's ears at high-volumed blasts; Cameron's swarming in and out of the house grew just as annoying as Phoebe reappearing in Paige's face, except the mercenary wasn't wearing her half-sister's victorious grin; then with Wyatt, Chris, Peter, and the twins trying to sleep under Coop's supervision, Paige's focus was on the angered husband of hers who left for a cool-down drive hours ago.
And she sensed him returning home now...
Minutes later, the car pulled in in front of the house, parking alongside the curb as Piper's jeep was in their driveway. Her focus remained attuned to Henry, feeling him make his way through the house and the sensing grew stronger and stronger until he stepped out behind her, greeting her with, "Hey."
She looked over her shoulder, still sitting on the cemented floor with her bare feet on the cold, still wet grass from the downpour the night before. The terrible winds from the storm continued on, but the sky stopped crying for a couple of hours, bound to rain its rage again. "Feel better, hubby?" He took a seat down next to her and she closed the tome, not getting any real studying done anyhow. "Look, we really don't need to do the whole Big Talk right now. This isn't even my big fight, so let's save the good stuff for when that is. A lot's going on and to be honest, I have a huge headache from everything going on in there and-"
"But there's something I have to say," Henry interrupted, taking her hand. "I'm sorry for my behavior seeming like I doubt you. I just don't do well with your past guys knocking on the front door asking me, your husband, to have a word with you. It irks me and in my renewed vows, assuming you still wanna remarry your jealous Tarzan, I'm going to throw in my rights to be jealous over you. Paige, you're too beautiful, quirky and incredible to not fight over."
"Even when you won the fight long ago?" Paige asked, grinning. "You know, you're pretty hot stuff yourself, Grizzly." She punched his chest, not holding back and smirked at his pain. "Look, I'm not mad or hurt. Really, other wives might make a big deal about this, but there's a world to save and I gotta focus on winning this battle so I can fight another battle and then maybe take a vacation before the next fight pops up."
"It's never really going to be over for you, is it?" Henry asked with an even voice, neither hopeful nor despondent.
Paige sat quiet, already knowing the answer. As long as there was one voice to scream out for her help, she'd be expected to take the call.
"Do you feel now what you've been missing out on? The power, the hunger to plague your will upon the world?"
The agent felt all of these things his master asked of him. He was reformed and grateful for it, no longer the man of the cloth speaking the good Word, but now his wits were sharpened and allowed his voice to be invisible yet profoundly lingering; Reynold's transformation into a Spirit Killer was successful. In place of his golden Messenger robe was now more armor than was necessary, but in his early stages of being evil-blooded, he wanted to ensure his safety to lead a long, spirit-destroying life. He patted down the chain-mail plate on his chest with his black finger-polished hand, looking like the cross of a medieval warrior with a twist of a gothic teenager. It had an edge to match his temper, that which wasn't fitting with the heavenly wear.
"I feel much empowered," the former Whitelighter replied, now very much the paralleled being he used to defend innocents against. "When do I get to go after the Witchlighter's charges? I have a very loud desire to walk them off bridges and run them into incoming trucks."
Avo chuckled and patted the shoulder of his rewarded apprentice, proud to have twisted a formerly benign child of the Elders. "I currently have our deadly Rose, more like Valen at this point, undertaking a chore for me, one that someone with the power she's carrying can manage that I could not. There's much to be done before we make genocide of the Witchlighter's impoverished powered ones. Once we knock them down, other faith-believing cretins will get theirs as well."
"Why don't we up the Darklighter population? Why don't we push others into descent and build a larger army? More Darklighters to take on the Elders and whatever they can throw at us," Reynold suggested, eager to launch the war against the Heavens. With Rose and Avo's legion at hand, victory was guaranteed.
"We need more than Darklighters, we need demons as well. I represent both entities and we need to get them to align under one voice – mine," a tired Avo expressed. "I've attempted this before as you know, but now I'm going to play the hands of the Council. Rose is fetching me my bargaining chip that once I have, they won't be able to deny me the Underworld's servitude."
Reynold shivered at the otherworldly winds in the lair they resided in and nodded, knowing better to question his superior's motives. His faith was now in Avo, the patriarch of his race. "And what of Rose? Does she not think the Underworld belongs to her?"
With a smirk from the Demonlighter, he reached into the folds of his jacket and retrieved a pocket watch. He flicked it open and read the time, "Rose has Valen running through her veins who cares not for the Underworld and should that change, it'll already be too late. Speaking of our beautiful devil though..." He locked the pocket watch and dropped it back into his pocket. "I must be off to meet her now. Practice your new package of powers and find your way to the fourth sector that leads into the deeper districts. If you see a statue of a pale witch, you've gone too far."
"The end is surfacing." He pocketed his hands and smelled the deathly, sulfurous air. "You don't want to miss the show now, do you?" Orbs consumed him, carrying himself to meet an Evil greater than himself.
She was centered, devoted to the sound of nothing and shunned out the noises of everything. Sarah was crying for her mother's milk which Coop was ignorant to, Piper was failing at the potion over and over, cars were breaking the speed limit, the little girl across the street was snoring unbelievably loud for her age, a teenager three blocks down was choking on his first cigarette, and so much more was going on around the world – and Billie heard it all for a few moments before closing it out of her head, keeping a balance of silence and built up her power.
Her body was healing itself from the mortal wound of falling through time and all the energy she used to travel back was returning to her, reconstructing itself back within eagerly, missing the sorceress who hosted it's essence. The power was very much alive within Billie, pulsing through her heart and onwards, connecting her with unearthly senses. A meadowlark outside minutes before landed besides Paige as the bird and Billie connected, enlightening the sorceress that the meadowlark was lost, separated from the siblings it hatched with. She wondered if the bird recognized that she too was separated from her sister.
The rhythm of her heart began to intensify and her focused energy began to waver, the signs of an outside force disrupting her concentrated flow. Billie tried to fight it and remain afloat with her magic, but the intrusion bruised her attention too far and -
Billie dropped out of the air where she was fixed and onto her bed where she bounced a couple of times. She immediately saw Cameron, the interloper of her meditation. "Thanks for knocking me out of my rather divining nap."
"Anytime," he coolly responded. "Midnight approaches and we have one helluva trip into, well, Hell. We don't really have time for you to be sleeping on the job, divine or not."
"I feel strong," she replied, getting to her feet. "You're going to be happy once you see what I can do. I've been dreaming up ways to attack Valen, defend us all from her power, ways to occupy the demons if I can't kill them immediately...I feel confident." She looked to the floor, trusting her words, but refused to let on the thing she was now most scared of was marching to her death.
"And the spell?" the Phoenix asked, still wearing the demonic attire he had projected onto him. "Did you write it down anywhere so you don't have to go lugging that big book around?"
"I memorized it. I can't allow myself to take my eyes off Rose, uh, Valen, whatever. It just seems fatal to disregard her when she has it out for me. I don't even know if there is a chance that Valen's not one hundred percent steering her body like Rose thought she would," Billie replied. "How's everything going downstairs? Is Piper still bombing the potion?"
Cameron studied her room, noticing the fresh paint of sage green throughout all the walls and assumed it was done to create a more serene environment for her meditation. He appreciated seeing the magical paraphernalia sorted on her bureau as well as the beauty products, but the smell of sandalwood calmed his senses a bit, very much needed before this battle. "Potion's done. All we're missing downstairs is our little Warrior Princess. Care to grace us?"
"I'd actually like a few minutes to myself," she replied, turning her back on him. "There's just one last thing I have to do, but I'll be no more than ten minutes. I just wanna get myself together."
He moved to the door and reminded her, "Ten minutes, Bil. We gotta roll." He then left, closing the door behind him.
Billie moved for her diary under her mattress, an obvious spot to hide such a personal possession, but considering no one else knew it existed, hiding it was just an extra precaution. She opened up to the next fresh page, following the page recording her relief for a revived Paige and began to write:
This is it. I'm off to meet my maker, march to my death and all those other silly little sayings people use before they die. I haven't spent nearly as much time thinking about what lies beyond life and there's no point wasting words and thoughts dedicated to such a thing now – I'll know for sure in a small amount of time.
But time...time is what I need more than anything. Time will allow me to be comforted by the people I love. Time will allow me to say every last thing I want to say to my friends.
Billie ran her pen vehemently over "friends", scratching it gone and drilled into the page behind it. She replaced it and continued on:
family. I'm going to miss coloring pictures with Peter and I always hoped I'd be the one to teach that really bright boy to flawlessly color inside the lines. Henry and I were always competing for that honor. Henry's doughnut cravings are so hilarious, I'll miss teasing him. Nothing says stereotypical-cop-guy like a stuffed jelly doughnut. And he always remembered to bring me my marble-frosted doughnuts in hopes of shutting me up.
Shutting up...is the one thing that Paige will never learn and I love her for it. She puts my babbles to shame. We're never going to argue (again!) over who used the last of the melon-breeze conditioner, but at least she'll be left with the memory of when she smelled it in Henry's hair and we got to see him blush and try and talk his way out of it. In the end, we found another reason to torture him.
Piper always remained pretty reserved with me, Phoebe was always someone I could go to, but I was exposed to Paige's bond and she was really something of a big sister to me. We fought evil together, she's helped me grow with my magic, she learned how to slow me down from my dangerous rushes, and she most of all, forgave me. I'm sure she did, I know that now. She took me under her wing being able to sympathize with me – she was once in my position and I'm just sad that I'll never be able to impact someone in the way she moved me.
I'll never get to grow up with the twins. When will they realize that they are special from other mortal children? Will Sarah accuse Samantha for being a copycat and less-prettier version of herself? Will they prank Henry and Peter with magic?
I hope that in the Great Beyond, I'll be able to watch. In high definition.
But then there's Cameron. How is it that I grew to love him? When did that happen? What was the exact moment that I stopped just finding him to be a comforting friend and crossed the line into someone I want to learn everything about? Crushes come and go, but this never went. It never got Friend Zoned. Well, it doesn't feel mutual, but it doesn't even matter now. Even if he cared for me as more than just a fighting partner, we'd never get to play it out.
It sucks. This whole thing just...sucks. I was told hours ago that I was going to have to die in order to save the people I care about as well as the people I never knew and never will. In the end, I wish I had more time, but it's time I give up the fairy tale dream that there's an alternative here.
Whoever reads this next, I want you to know what I was told. The sorceress in Valen's time period told me that, "A sacrifice is asked of the Spiritus Rector Ritual. In order to gain the trust of the spirits, someone with enough heart to protect the virtuous must be put to death. She then will anchor the ritual's power, hosting spiritual domination over Valen. Brace yourself for death."
Color me "braced" for the sacrifice. I love you all and this is why I'm doing it. You're all going to be okay, eventually. I hope you all love me enough to never forget me and maybe even celebrate me? That'd be something cool to look down. You don't have to get crazy and build a fountain in my name with a statue of me spilling the water out of a potion vial or anything...although I always thought that'd be cool.
Be well, all.
Her handwriting was small and only occupied one full journal page, but the penmanship was unsteady and blotchy in a couple spaces due to the tears Billie spilled in grief of her short-lived life. She left the book open on this page, bearing her last words, to be discovered by whoever would be the first to stumble into her room after her death for whatever reason. She knew she had to go downstairs and join them, but she needed a couple more minutes to herself.
She telekinetically locked the door, and began to pull apart her ponytail as she cried for the last couple hours of her life, a time too small to accomplish the thousands of things she wanted to fulfill...
Billie hoped her parents were looking down at her, proud as ever, and would embrace her lovingly in the afterlife.
She composed herself after ten minutes, more time than she asked for but was fortunate enough to have it respected, and she dried her eyes and caught her breath. She finally hopped off of her bed, granted herself one last look of herself in the mirror and was glad to see the woman who was going to honor her word with her death.
With one last scan of her room, she left the room Paige blessed her with, wishing the next inhabitant better luck than her own.
She moved down the hall, trying to pay little attention to the pictures on the wall as possible, but that itself was impossible. An ornate-framed photo of Henry and Paige snuggled close reminded Billie that she wouldn't be able to attend the second wedding of the two. At least she got to sit in the audience at the first, but maybe Paige would've asked her to be a bridesmaid this time around...
Doesn't matter, she reminded herself, picking up the pace and leaving the memories out of her heart to make her sacrifice a little easier. She jogged down the steps and into the dining room where most were seated and others were standing. With Piper at the head of the table and Leo behind her, she seemed to be leading the discussion as Billie turned in. "...and that's just my suggestion. This is the only time I'll ever use this, but I'm the eldest and therefore, I know best."
Paige cut in,"But it's my birthday, so I should have extra points towards my vote."
Billie pocketed her hands into her slacks and slumped her shoulders down, "What are we voting on? Personally, I think this Obama guy has it in the bag next year."
Phoebe chuckled, sitting a chair away from Piper, and mockingly rooted her hand, "You exercise your right to vote next year, Billie. Tonight, we're just debating strategies. Piper wants to go in and wave her hands around like a madwoman and hope for the best while Paige wants to tackle this with more than just instinct and good wishes. I'm inclined to agree with birthday girl here."
"As am I," Leo said, betraying his wife and when she looked up at him, he knew he'd pay for it later. "Piper, this is a primeval demon hiding inside a really tempered, scorned witch here. A witch with demon blood, we can't forget. When things got bad with Zankou, that's when we returned to drawing boards and devised a plan. Precautions were taken, Zankou was tricked, the Nexus was banished, and most importantly, you won."
"Sounds fascinating," Cameron drawled, flipping a small dagger back and forth between his fingers. "This is how it's going to go. There are going to be demons there that are stronger than the obvious minions; my men and the other recruits will take care of the lower-levels, careful not to kill too many of them so we can gain more spirits on our side to swallow Valen. All of us in here..." he stopped to focus on Leo and Henry and corrected himself, "Except you two, we're going to take them on as Billie here takes on the Queen of the Damned." He turned to the subject himself and asked, "You ready?"
Billie studied the table they gathered at and noticed various things going on; potions of different colors were lined up from explosive purples to electrifying orange, the dull silver would be the one she would drink to sacrifice herself. She was scared to ask the sorceress of the past if the potion would hurt her in any way; she didn't need anything else to discourage her. On the table were other weapons as well an ax to a couple of swords and a clutter of athamaes.
She moved over and played with a single athamae bearing a pentagram crest on its jeweled hilt. Billie ran a finger along the edge of the blade before poking the tip, "I'm ready to go. There's a couple things we should discuss though..."
After easily fighting away many demonic opponents including the minotaur again, Paige, Billie and the clan finally reached the outside of Valen's Underworld palace. Billie sensed the power lying inside, recognizing many more forces inside but when she connected with Valen's essence, she felt compatible. The awareness of just how powerful she was if she just got creative with her magic allowed her to be the champion that was being asked of her. She turned back at her family and Cameron's Phoenix siblings; most of them were armed with weapons. Phoebe held a jeweled sword by her side with a crossbow strapped along her back, Cameron wielded his sai daggers at the ready, the Phoenixes all held favored weapons from maces to axes and Paige carried the bag of ritual instruments over her shoulder.
"Everyone good? Once we go in there's no turning back," Paige obviously stated. "I mean, we can try, I just doubt it'll do us much good."
Piper bent her elbows and scratched away at her palms, "I'm ready to pop some demons open." She balled her hands into fists, ready to unleash her power with the only weapons she needed during this battle.
"Thanks again for tagging along," Billie said to both Piper and Phoebe. "I know this isn't your fight and you should've been done long ago but-"
"This is something we've never gone against before. I have my powers back, Piper's as strong as ever, and Paige is loaded with magic of all areas. You may be destined to take Valen out, but this isn't a battle that could've existed without the Charmed Ones," Phoebe replied, then pointed her sword to the opening. "I'm sensing a lot of power in there. Some greater than others and ultimately Rose and every last bit of demon she swallowed. It's definitely the power I was sensing when I got my powers back, just not at this volume."
"Just stay alert," Paige said, concerned that if anything happened to her, there would be no one to heal anyone short of Phoebe channeling her powers. It's not like they had the Elders on their side, despite how damn grateful they should be that if they were successful tonight, there would be one less war against the Heavens – and they wouldn't have moved a muscle to save their own kind.
Billie and Paige stood close to one another and Paige quietly whispered to the young sorceress, "You're going to do fine. The things you have planned sound effective."
The blonde grinned and full on smiled when Paige playfully smacked her rear, wishing her good luck in a sisterly way. "You too," was the only thing she could say before they all moved into the palace where Rose in all her demonic glory was sitting on her throne, one leg over the other.
"Come to fight me, have you?" Rose spoke across the room, still wearing the black leather jacket and matching fitted jeans from the night when she first gained possession of Valen's essence. The only difference that Billie and Paige knew wasn't there last time was the bronze chest plate with an infinity glyph stamped in gold across her violet shirt; this had to have been that multidimensional sorceress Reyn, protecting the heart of the demon she hated. "I was told you weren't clever but that was an understatement it appears. You may as well lay down your wand now for your magic is no contest against mine."
Billie looked down at her hands mockingly, then raised the small medieval ax in her possession. "Nope, no wand. Just this ax right here." She scanned the palace grounds, very impressed by this demonically structured lair from the plated floors to the ceiling-high bronze columns and even more so by the inhabitants; thirteen demons stood out from the rest, clearly from a much older era. She pointed her ax to an eight foot tall solar orange demon, two massive spiked wings flapping away but taking no flight, and its tail laid relax on the ground, waiting to crush someone. "And I'm sorry, but I'm betting this guy is going to put up more of a fight than you."
Rose didn't respond to this with a laugh or sarcastic remark; she merely stared, slowly turning her attention to the demon being spoken of and then raised her hand. "Actually, my Grackmar pet here has some vengeance to bestow. These Undying Ones have been reconstituted at full strength – they're in my debt." Then, her demeanor changed, a little more relaxed and held the edge of Rose, particularly the malevolent glint in her burning sapphire eyes and the smirk. "Fly, my pretties, fly."
The Grackmar's wings carried the demon into the air, aiming for the ceiling before a wide vortex opened up, inviting it to take direct flight in amongst the other Undying Ones, who were all of different shapes and colors. They would all have to be hunted down if they threatened the world, but later. Only two remained and they looked prepared to fend off Charmed power.
"Decreasing your defenses doesn't seem to be the brightest of moves, Rose," Billie shouted, carefully building up a power blast to hurl at the demon-hybrid far across from her, but slowly enough that it couldn't be immediately detected. "And yet I'm the dim-witted one?"
"Precisely," Rose curtly replied, her voice resounding of the crystal clearness of the glaciers she visited earlier, gracing the poor excuse of a creation with her presence, nearly destroying the mountain with her incontestable magic. "Do you wish a fight of me, you mortal? That is what you are; mortal. I'll never be conquered, I'll never be controlled, and no one will ever dominate me the way..." her voice drifted off to a corner of her former life, to be forever shadowed away, unable to unearth such humanity again.
Billie reflected on the memory of Rose pre-Valen, the edgy demonic witch who once was a human, now raped of her freewill after inviting this demon in. Rose may have been a threat to Billie, but the sorceress promised to put her out of her misery for no one deserved this corruption.
Paige spoke up for the others unaware of Rose's conception, "Rose's mother Carmen was violated by a succubus. That's how she was born, so I blame the demon half of her that made her pretty bitchy."
The lair began to quake, dropping storms of dust and rocks from the ceiling and Rose composed herself, diminishing the harsh sapphire glow from her eyes that blazed upon hearing Paige's words. "Had I known you were going to mouth off, Witchlighter, I'd have made your stay in the ghost realm mandatory." Rose returned her attention to Billie and said, "You won't even last as a memory in a few moments."
"I'm eager to get on with that then," Billie said with a nod, gesturing her hand forward and unleashed a stream of charged, violet energy that sped towards Rose. The blast reached the demon, but Rose was quick enough to manifest a shield, bouncing the power away from her. It split into several rays which pummeled a few demons backwards before tearing them into ashes.
"That was impolite. I think you need your big sister to teach you some manners," Rose replied, accompanied with a nod and a wave of her hand.
Sapphire flames rose from the ground, depositing Christy onto the battlefield, disoriented. She looked around for a few moments before locking eyes with Billie, a grim look on her face. A small sphere of fire exploded into existence a couple of feet before expanding into the size of a boulder that sped towards her younger sister...
"Split now!" Billie shouted as she telekinetically swept Christy's fireball into the direction of one of the Undying Ones, not committing the attention to learning its success. She charged towards Christy who was also making her way towards her, ready to break the enchantment that Rose no doubt placed upon her. Christy wasn't going to die again, especially not by her hands.
Three of the demon minions of Valen, the Valors (as recognized by the Elders for their fearless fighting) charged towards Billie as she moved for Christy and Billie willed two of them away with her power while ducking the remaining one's blow before swinging back up, connecting her ax with its neck. The demon exploded and Billie carried on, leaving the others alive for the ritual's sake.
A female Valor flew towards Billie with a fireball in each hand and Billie concentrated on the fire, animating the fireballs with her projection power into monstrous specters that turned on their creator, devouring her in violent flames that extinguished the animations as well. The space between her and Christy was close, but there was still the matter of incoming demons to deal with. Just as she was thinking up a new strategy, a gray-skinned warrior with only brown scraps around his waist appeared, kicking the ax out of her hand.
The warrior's shadow black eyes never left Billie's body even during the three successful kicks he landed against her forehead, neck, and chest before sweeping his leg under hers and dropped her to the ground. Billie felt the hidden athamae pinch against her back and she opened her eyes just in time to dodge a slamming foot against her face. She rolled to the side, grabbing the hidden athamae out from the back of her belt in the process, and attempted to get back to her feet when the warrior roared a neon pink blast her way.
The sorceress raised her her hand, deflecting the blast into a near-by Valor which melted slowly. Billie didn't want this warrior-thing breathing its colorful, foul air on her. "It's called mouthwash. Try some," she muttered before hurling the dagger at the gray being. Unfortunately, the warrior was too quick and dodged it, leading Billie to quickly summon the dagger back like a boomerang and successfully drove it into the back of his head.
Like the Valor before him, the gray warrior melted into a bubbling puddle on the steel-plated ground.
Billie began to rise when a foot connected with her chin, dropping her back down. The same foot then pinned down her neck to the ground, choking the sorceress. "Chri-"
"Shut the hell up for once!" Christy demanded out of her younger sister. She held out her hand, palm side-up, twirled her fingers and birthed fire. With a sufficient sized fireball, the telepath grinned.
Leading his men against the reptilian Bacnor demon, Cameron quickly surveyed the demon's appearance for any weaknesses. He only knew that these Bacnor demons held the ability of strength and an ability to paralyze their foes with their seven-foot long emerald tails that matched their scaled armor – the answers to defeating them were long lost or forgotten. The squad of four Phoenixes including both him and the blonde Deirdre who personally despised Billie, were all firing off energy balls all over the demon.
"Sid, get a close up on the stinger," Cameron ordered. He turned to direct a command to Deirdre when he saw three Valors close in on her. A katana blade manifested in her grip and she twisted into the air, sweeping all three of their necks off with a cyclone of a swing. "D, don't kill them all. Billie needs a majority of them alive. Don't forget the stun and shove method."
"Oh, fine," Deirdre muttered as a Valor approached her. She smacked him in the face with the flat of her blade, twice for extra assurance, and rammed her jeweled hilt into the temple of another. She kicked the Valors into the wall. "Billie this, Billie that."
Cameron ignored her, returning his focus on the Bacnor demon that Sid was sneaking around. The eight-foot tall Bacnor stomped over to one of the bronze columns and punched it loose. "I don't think so!" The blond mercenary blasted a succession of three energy balls at the Bacnor's disfigured face, stunning it momentarily.
The demon roared out in an unknown language and furiously searched around for its attacker, landing it's slit crimson eyes on Sid. The Bacnor's tail swung with a velocity that the well-trained Sid couldn't even avoid and stabbed the mercenary in his abdomen with the stinger.
The tail withdrew from Sid's abdomen, but the mercenary was too magically petrified to explode into the signature ashes that would allow him to return anew. Cameron, Deirdre and Lio all cried out for him, expecting him to regenerate, but a harsh sage glow swallowed him whole.
Deirdre and Lio returned to Cameron's side where he couldn't answer their questions as to what was going on. "I don't know, not much is known about them. We have to focus on the Bacnor though." He heartlessly turned away from Sid just in time to see the Bacnor's tail swinging their way. "Jump!"
Like an awful game of jump rope, all three Phoenixes leapt into the air and landed back down on the ground. Lio almost lost his balance flipping around to Cameron and suggested, "Maybe we should run his own tail into him."
"How do you plan on doing that, cupcake?" Deirdre asked.
An explosion sounded beside them and where Sid's former glowing form stood a second Bacnor demon. Their eyes all widened, bracing themselves for the challenge. Cameron sighed as he charged towards the newly created Bacnor with an energy ball in hand, "Sorry, Sid-o."
Even before Piper could warn her, Phoebe sensed the demon Salmac approaching her. She levitated into the air, watching as the demon rode past her on his horse which didn't look like anything except pure shadow, yet Phoebe already watched this shadow horse kick Piper off her feet. The worst part was that despite being solid, all their attacks seemed to phase through.
Staying airborne, Phoebe called out to her sisters, "We gotta slow him down."
"I already tried that," Piper shouted up, having attempted to both freeze and blow the horse up several times, accidentally vanquishing demons she wasn't even aiming for as her attack flew through the horse.
"Horsie!" Paige shouted, failing to orb the shadow horse out from under Salmac again. How were they supposed to fight him if he continued to dance around them, breathing fire out of his lion-mouth and swinging his sword from his humanoid body? She attempted to telekinetically throw Salmac's sword out of his hand, but the demon held a tight grip. "Well, then. Sword!"
The sword orbed out of the demon's hand and into Paige's, instantly burning her palms, causing her to drop the sword to the ground with a scream. She held out her hands and activated her hands to call forth her healing light, despite having no injuries on anyone before her to heal, and while her burns didn't go away, the pain was subdued enough. Maybe a couple more minutes of this would allow her to reclaim her place in the fight.
Phoebe dropped down to the ground next to Paige, asking if she was alright while tapping into her power, "Whoa, this feels warm." She ran her glowing hands over Paige's wounds, healing them fully.
Salmac began to charge the Charmed Ones who were discussing tactic as a Valor approached Piper. With a swift gesture, he was still. Wordlessly, Paige orbed the demon to a pile of other frozen demons hidden behind a series of columns for later use. "How are we going to take down the Sword-less Horseman?" Paige asked.
"Maybe if we knew a little bit more about Mr. Lion Head, we could manage a spell," Piper said. "Should we just banish him? We don't have time for this. We can lock him in the astral plane."
"Or send him back down to deeper depths of Hell," Phoebe replied. She was already positioned in the middle when she grabbed a hand of each of her sisters and said, "Just do your best to keep him at bay." Both Paige and Piper raised their free hands at Salmac, taking turns at blowing up the ground below him, orbing broken structures into his path, and deflecting the roars of fire as the middle sister concentrated.
"Demon of the kingdom from long ago,
Reclaim your den of power down below,
Fall back amongst crowds of hellish fire,
Return now, escape your doomed pyre!"
Just as Salmac breathed another stream of fire, a vortex opened below him and dropped him back to a hellish plane unknown to neither man or witch.
"Don't let the door hit you on the way out," Phoebe said as the fiery vortex closed behind Salmac. "If you can't beat them, just-"
"Join them?" Piper cut in, pointing out the Phoenixes struggling with the two Bacnors. The Charmed Ones charged in their direction...
Having had to telekinetically throw her older sister off of her minutes back, Billie found herself engaged in a battle against persistent Valors and family. Using her power to launch herself over an incoming Valor, Billie landed behind him and swung the ax she reclaimed through his back, splitting him in half to the ground.
A well aimed kick from the sorceress cracked into the jaw of the next female Valor, though another Valor took this as an opportunity to attempt a sweep kick. Billie dropped the ax as she performed a back handspring, successfully dodging the kick and picked up the ax immediately after, hurling it into the skull of the low-attacking Valor. The sorceress gestured towards the demon she previously kicked and whispered, "Sleep." The demon obeyed the command against his will, then dropped to the ground. With a snap of her fingers, Billie transported the demon with the pile of other unconscious and hurt Valors.
Billie flipped around as Christy hurled another fireball her way, easily deflecting it with her original power. "Christy, I'm not going another round with you. This fight is getting old."
"Not gonna stop until the referee raises my hand, sis," Christy retorted. The firestarter charged towards Billie and delivered a punch to her jaw before kneeing her in the stomach. She grabbed a handful of Billie's hair and then looked her in the eye, a new pain residing within her own head. "I'm sorry for the ass kicking, but this has to be convincing. If Rose knows we're doing anything less than me killing the crap out of you, we're both dead. Just think to me."
Billie swung her elbow up at Christy, knocking her backwards. "Okay, there. Convincing enough for you?"
"Very. Now, I hope this little rescue party isn't all for me. I'm not worth it, so you better have a damn good plan," Christy thought back, able to channel forth her thoughts out as well as the usual receiving. Just to keep the fight going, she chucked a new fireball that Billie gestured into a cloud of smoke, easily dismissed. "You'll roast, Billie."
The sorceress looked taken aback before she remembered Christy's performance. The look on her face though, this visage of pure, concentrated pain looked honest. "Christy, are you alright?"
Christy shook her head and quickly tackled Billie to the floor, lessening the blows of the punches she was executing on her sister's face, especially when blood began to spill from her nose. "It's taking a lot out of me to block Rose from hearing our conversation. If she overhears, we're dead. But blocking off the power of Valen? I feel like my head's gonna explode. Now, the plan. What is it?"
Billie caught back some of her breath before mentally responding, feeling tears surface around her eyes from the pain of having her nose broken. "The Ritual of the Spiritus Rector. We're gathering up the demons to use, but were gonna kill Valen once and for all. Rose may not make it either." As she did when Christy's foot was pressing down on her throat before, she willed the firestarter off and tossed her onto her back.
The sorceress picked herself up, stumbling to the sides and saw two Valors charging towards her with freshly charged fireballs. She didn't want to risk killing these two, but took too long to think up a transformation for them and fell victim to the fireballs. The burns spread their scorching pain through both her left shoulder and stomach where she was hit as she flew off her feet, slamming against the warm bronze pillar. Billie slid to the ground and screamed, "Paige!"
The Valors continued to approach her with Christy close behind who couldn't risk losing Rose's trust, not during this fight where they were risking so much to destroy her. Billie moved to gesture forward with her shoulder-burnt arm to sweep the demons unconscious with the growing pile but retracted it in pain. Just as she was about to command them to sleep, orbs dropped in front of her where Paige stepped out.
Christy quickly conjured a fireball, hurling it towards the Witchlighter who teleorbed it into the heart of one Valor, impacting him with Christy's flames into a timely vanquish. Paige scanned the grounds for a weapon, spotting Billie's double-bladed ax and willed it to fly off from the ground. She steered the ax through the air and allowed the flat side of the blade to collide into the back of the unsuspecting Valor's head, knocking him out. With a wave of her hands, the demon orbed with the rest of them.
Paige looked between both Billie and Christy, torn between the eternal fight of whether or not she put her time towards healing the victim or battling the enemy. "Screw it," Paige growled before furiously swinging her arm out at Christy, lifting the firestarter off of her feet and sent her diving into a crowd of four Valors. The Witchlighter flipped around to Billie and dropped to her knees, quickly healing her injuries, starting with her broken nose.
Feeling the sweet relief of her nose being healed fully and her burns cooling off, Billie whispered, "Christy's mine to deal with. I got this," and without allowing Paige to finish, she jumped to her feet and quickly ran towards Christy, picking her ax up on the way. She knew she couldn't explain to Paige that Christy was on their side, not at the risk of Rose overhearing or sensing too much confidence out of the both of them.
She quickly scanned the battlefield where she saw Piper, Phoebe, Cameron, Deirdre, Lio and other Phoenixes having a difficult time with the two Bacnor demons; it was a fight hard to watch with the Phoenixes moving around speedily, Phoebe floating around and Piper hiding behind her impacting explosions.
Billie turned to see Paige on her tail and quickly stopped, "No, go help out the others. Whatever the hell those things are, they need to be out the way. I'll try and get us a few more sacrifices and then we move for Rose."
Taking the orders from her charge, mature in knowledge and war tactics after working so closely with Cameron, Paige turned away from the elected leader of this battle and orbed back towards her family and allies.
Relieved, the blonde continued across the field where she saw Rose glaring at her, seeming dissapointed at the fight her soldiers were putting up. As a pair of Valors approached her, Billie threw her ax into the air and telekinetically boomeranged their necks off, gripping the handle tightly when it returned to her hands before the demons could finish exploding. "You're next," she whispered, but with the attention Rose had locked on her, she knew she could hear.
"My soldiers may die now, but these fields we stand on replenish my army for this is not a graveyard, but a garden where my demons grow and grow," Rose's eerily monotone voice spoke into Billie's head, violating her mind. "You're welcome to challenge me directly if you're feeling on taking on someone a little more indestructible."
She didn't reply with any thoughts or words, knowing Rose would understand being called into battle when Billie swung her ax at her. She fought against other Valors, destroying some while knocking out others, up until she reached Christy who she carefully swung her ax at, thankfully missing her. Christy swung back up with an uppercut, knocking the ax out of her hand in the process.
"Christy, listen up. For this to work, this ritual has to be backed up with a sacrifice. There's this spell that has to be performed from the Other Side and echoed into our world through the voice of the dead. I'm going to perform it," Billie elbowed Christy in the face, stunning her more with her mentally delivered words than the blow itself. "I'm gonna let Rose kill me and in return, she'll die." The sorceress than crescent kicked her elder sister in the face, sending her to the ground. "Take care of yourself and my friends and know that I love-."
Before Billie could finish the only personal farewell she wished to deliver, Christy screamed in a cry louder than that of when she was consumed by her own flames. The concern on Billie's face was a give-a-way and she looked back over at Rose who was grinning.
"So," Rose began in Billie's mind, threatening. "You've come to assassinate me after all. In my own home? Most unkind of you." Then, aloud, Rose spoke across the battlefield. "Come give it your all."
So she has realized her potential as a chosen champion, Rose thought silently, completely undetected by the power of both telepath and empaths. They should be grateful for this, for if they could get into the infested mind of an evil this great, they would know the true meaning of what Hell was and would condemn themselves to death to escape the unspeakable tortures pressed upon their minds. But not her, she was resilient enough through Avo's mental exercises to emerge alive and unbreakable.
"Do you know how I really am, mortal?" Rose asked, her sapphire glare tagged to Billie.
Was Billie Jenkins here really going to try and oppose her strength and her forgotten magic? She may have stood a chance when she was just Rose, she hated to admit, but now? She was one with the Queen of Demons, she in essence was Valen the Valorous.
"Humans are blind to me. Demons fall before me begging me to speak their names. Your Elders hide in their Heavens in hopes their holy wards keep me at bay and for now it does. That changes soon. Plants sung of my return, the ocean crashed upon the ground to welcome me to this odious realm and now my power exists in the heart of the storm. For I am the Queen of Demons and you're just another walking corpse."
Rose was connected to everything, good, bad and everything between. She sensed that Billie was under the impression that she was fated to eliminate her, just as many oceans of so-called champions assumed of themselves years back.
Her army of demons were greater than the average witch could hope to vanquish and while Billie proved herself above average, it was as she said, these demons would emerge again in the passing hours and in that time, the Undying Ones she unleashed were wreaking her havoc and war above hellish grounds.
Rose turned an eye to the traitorous firestarter who was now suffering for forging a block over her mind; the betrayal wasn't a surprise, it just meant that her promise to spare her life was now as void as Billie's eyes would be momentarily – assuming eyes were left to spare. Christy's eyes finally closed, now broken and unconscious after having the telepathic barrier broken.
She turned over to the Bacnor demons and sensed their approaching deaths, despite the advantage they currently owned in the battle. Watching the last minutes of their death mattered not to her and she took her first steps towards the foolishly courageous Billie who was a minute's reach to a fight she wouldn't survive.
Her paladins of war retreated from her path, leaving a clear aisle for their Queen and the sorceress. A few feet from one another, they stopped. "Are you positive to your choice of death, little girl? Is dying at my hand really worth the honor of living out an unfulfilled and likely loveless life?"
Billie held out her hand and felt her power cooly rise within her, bringing both comfort to the fear she had of this battle as well as physically delivering the double-bladed ax she'd grown use to into her possession. She dropped the ax to her side, casually swinging it back and forth. "You don't exactly have me shaking in my worn yet comfortable boots."
Rose looked down at the referred boots and recognized them through the help of Valen's dated memories. "Traveled through time, did we? You've returned with courage it seems. Did someone promise you an untested way to defeat me? Your plan is flawed as you challenge my power with an unproven ritual."
"I'm guess I'm gonna have to roll with the blind faith that those peeps did their math right," Billie replied, gripping the ax's handle to feel safer.
"And as for your non-existing fear, your heart sings a much different tune. There's a steady, fast-beat rhythm being played in my ears, a song that I remember hearing from countless champions before yourself," Rose hid her hands behind her back, conjuring a small jeweled dagger that dripped of purple venom. "Your emotions betray your demeanor. I'm unlike anything you've ever attempted to match before."
"I'll grant you that you're more than the Demon of the Week pace that I'd grown used to, but you're not as indestructible as you claim. You're not the immortal that you think-" Billie stopped to turn her attention towards the Bacnor demon as it cried out. It appeared that all her allies that were working alongside one another to vanquish the two Undying Ones cornered one into a fractured pillar, blasting it off to crush the demon to ashes. In turn, the other Bacnor that was about to crush Lio to death with its foot exploded into ashes.
Rose kept her sapphire eyes locked on Billie's face and watched as its evenness switched into a cocky grin.
"So, ball and chain demons, huh?" Billie asked.
"These demons are Undying. Fall as they may and rise stronger in the next moon cycle for they are infinite. They were born of space and predated magic and will exist in the hell dimensions for..." Rose stopped herself and tilted her head like a curious alien observing mundane fashions at the sight of the Charmed Ones, Cameron and his surviving Phoenixes approaching Billie. "It would appear your cavalry would wish to aid you in this fight, hoping to defeat me if I'm at the handicap disadvantage."
Once the small, yet powerful army gathered behind Billie, the sorceress replied, "Surely someone of your power can take on a bunch of kids like us."
"I entertain your challenge," Rose said, her hands firmly set behind her back still. "My body is deep-seated and drowning in power, resilience and incontestable strength. My mind is infused with wisdom your kind will never know exists. I'm the Queen of dimensions forgotten to this world and will remind the Elders of their mortality soon enough. So, who wishes the first punch?"
With an uncatchable speed, Rose threw her dagger out from behind her back and straight into Paige's stomach. The surprise in Paige's eyes brought warmth to the two hearts that have existed inside of her since inviting Valen in. "The poison of Darklighters. No Whitelighters around to heal you."
When Phoebe moved towards Paige to heal her with channeled power, Rose shouted, "Consider this before healing her. In the moments it'll take for you to take care of your sister, I'll take advantage of your new vulnerabilities – if you use Whitelighter power, you absorb their weaknesses. Your plan to destroy me is most undoubted of you all, so why don't we test just how light-fast you can pin me down?"
Phoebe whispered an apology to a sweating Paige, the both of them understanding the risks of the empath falling prey to Darklighter poison. Phoebe looked over at Rose and snatched a katana blade out of Deidre's hand, "Just for the record, I'm going to enjoy dicing you up."
The sai daggers twirled within Cameron's fingers and he called out, "You know that whole life-flashing-before-your-eyes business? You may have lived two lives now, Rose, but you're not gonna be alive to see it all."
"Perhaps we fight now," Rose said as she moved towards them all, applauded on by her small handful of conscious Valors. She was curious as to what Charmed power meant, knowing it meant nothing in her days.
Phoebe, Cameron, Deirdre and Lio were the first wave to charge her. Deirdre swung her Katana at Rose but the demon-Queen just caught the blade in between her hands before pulling it free from the Phoenix's hands. With one quick motion, she ran it through her heart just as Lio fired two energy balls in her direction.
Deirdre fell to the floor eyes wide as Rose protected herself from the energy balls with her forearms, deflecting them into two other Phoenixes, temporarily blowing them up. She looked down at Deirdre who wasn't reconstituting and knew it to be because of the force delivered behind the stab; Phoenixes could only endure so much.
Trained not to cry for his fellow fallen, Cameron placed the fury behind his daggers, but finding it hard to land a hit like Phoebe. She dodged with an unparalleled grace, using the precognitive senses of the Old Ones. As Phoebe swung her blade towards Rose, the Queen caught it as she did with Deirdre but didn't snatch it clean and instead flung the psychic witch across the battlefield. She may not have seen it coming, but Phoebe triggered her power to catch her in the air before she could crash.
After growing bothered of dodging the rapid attempts by Cameron, she stepped under his next swing and grabbed him by the back of his neck. She lifted him up a couple of feet as she sensed a blast coming her way and turned her attention to catch the invisible explosion inside her hand, returning it towards Piper and blasted her into a still floating Phoebe, dropping the two Charmed Ones to the ground. Rose refocused on Cameron, slamming him down to her feet.
"You lust for a mortal you know little of," Rose stated in an even voice, turning to Billie just in time to deflect a well charged violet blast into the two recently reconstituted Phoenixes, blowing them to ashes again. "I know no understanding of your weakness. You disgustingly use love, the most distasteful of affections towards someone you know not of. What of the days when duels were fought in your honor or when champions gifted the ones they worshipped with heads as trophies?"
Rose looked around the colorful air, stained heavily with blotches of crimson and the clusters of oil black shadowing a color of forgotten name. In her times, the air was thicker with graver colors, but what she breathed now was merely what a mortal child's finger paints would be compared to a portrait defended by numerous security measures in the wealthiest of museums. Again, she spoke, "I'm an alien to your ways, but I'll repair the primeval wheels of the ancient demon cycle in my approaching moments."
Just as she was about to crush Cameron's head underneath her foot, a series of ongoing kicks pushed her away from the weakened Phoenix until she turned away and saw Billie cycling through the air with the use of her telekinetic abilities, rampaging her with many hits. Rose hovered into the air a foot higher than Billie and punched her down to the ground.
Both the sorceress and demon touched down from the air though while Billie slammed against her back, Rose landed on her feet. Rose reached down, choked Billie and understood she could snap her neck clean in this very moment, but this fight was too enticing. She lifted her into the air and as Billie's feet dangled three feet above the ground, Cameron picked himself up from the floor and began to race towards her. "Catch." With the smirk of a sadist, Rose flung Billie into Cameron and knocked him back down, taking her with him.
The Phoenixes and Lio rejoined the fight and Rose summoned power from within and breathed a pulsing blast of magenta energy into them, transforming them all to stone. There stood three warrior statues, petrified in their fighting stances. The Queen gestured with open hands, obliterating each statue with a violent sapphire blast, beyond the help of the reconstituting a Phoenix was capable of.
Rose looked over at Paige who was sweating from the sickness spreading through her blood and crying as well. "Mourn your life, Witchlighter. Avo may have wished for the execution himself but I paid my debt to him tonight. He was void of the warrior spirit, choosing to bide his time when he could've delivered death in many wasted moments."
Billie picked herself up off from Cameron and spat, "Shut up!" Despite how much she wanted it, Rose wasn't silenced by the intentional command, which was a good thing to learn about how her power affected the great Queen. "This ends now."
"Agreed." With a twirl from her hand, a sapphire stream of fire blasted through the air towards her prophesized enemy.
Billie gathered her confidence and trusted in her power's ability – and if it failed, she'd be dead ahead of schedule. "Daggers!" she bewitched, transforming the fire into a parade of daggers which Billie telekinetically rebounded towards its creator. Rose merely stared at the daggers, melting them through the air and left nothing but a sizzling puddle on the ground.
Billie tilted her head and said, "You wanted to see my all, didn't you?"
The sorceress used her telekinesis to aid her in flight, carrying her into the air where she gestured downwards, raining projectiles of fire onto Rose who summoned a shield to guard herself. Billie continued the fiery assault, burning through the clear barrier and struck Rose off her feet and onto her back for the first time. Billie began to drop down, projecting an ax into her possession in mid-air, swung the weapon over her head, ready to strike below onto the demon Queen below. Rose slyly rolled out of the way just as the ax almost connected, sending a violent vibration running up Billie's arms until her shoulders as the blade connected with the plated ground. With a soft whimper, Billie tried to shake the pain free just as Rose returned to her feet and delivered a solid punch into her stomach.
The ax fell from Billie's as she was thrown backwards and landed flat on her back. She leaned up, looking past Rose and saw Piper holding her wounded stomach from her power reflected back at her and Phoebe was limping towards the ritual bag. It was time they started preparing the ritual already. Both their deaths were approaching...
Billie firmly set her palms flat on the ground behind her head, swung her legs back and pushed herself up from the ground, her feet dropping back down after the successful kip-up. Four chakrams began to fly her way in rapid succession one after another and Billie waved them off with hand, transfiguring them all into waves of wind which cooled her bruises and blew back her hair. "You're not living up to your legend, Valen."
Rose examined the sorceress with a studying eye, "I was mistaken it appears. Where I thought you only held the strength of a pounding rainfall and gust, you've the power of a hurricane and gale, but your storm shall not drown me." The demon moved towards the sorceress with an impressive sprint and grabbed her underneath her arms, throwing her against the wall with a painful impact. "Your efforts have been wasted. This ritual will matter not without my demons." She turned her attention over to the crowds of demons laid about, some unconscious, some recovering and others injured.
A missile of sapphire energy exploded from the Hell-Queen's closed fist, driving towards the laid-out demons. Billie watched helplessly as she couldn't move a muscle to create any protection, when the great projectile collided into a forest green shield, rebounding at a speed that Rose herself was too stunned to repel and threw her into the air, landing a few feet besides Billie herself.
Billie scanned for the source and saw all three Charmed Ones chanting in different locations; a very life-exhausted Paige was still lying down, safely propped up against a pillar, chanting weakly; Piper was standing still in one place, placing all her attention to the demons as she now held them all bound by her power while chanting; Phoebe was placing down the second of three mahogany wands in a pyramidal fashion, connecting them all by corners. The spell they chanted, distanced from one another, ensured the protection of the demons they needed alive as their three voices sung as one, apart yet together.
The sorceress weakly picked herself up as Cameron kept an occasional eye on her as he poured a circle of ancient ashes inside Phoebe's triangular trap. She limped over to the circle and turned around quickly to project a web of violet energy onto an unsuspecting Rose, caging her for a limited time. Billie continued to move onward, telekinetically sweeping other free demons away from her as she moved for her targeted spot.
Billie reached Cameron who finished chanting his latin incantation and brushed his cheek with her bloody hand. "It's time..."
"I know. The Charmed Ones have the demons locked down and your stage for the spell is set up. All you have to do now is-" he abruptly stopped, sensing more of this ritual now. "Billie, is there...?" She only looked solemnly at him and his eyes widened. "No. Hell no! Billie, no way in-" He was telekinetically thrown backwards away from the woman who only moments before brushed his face gently and crashed among the rubble that crushed the Bacnor demon.
The sorceress held out her palm and closed her eyes as she used her hidden eye to search amongst an infinite ether where she stored away the potion that would bring her death. An echo of her hand dug past endless treasures hidden by many as she psychically grabbed ahold of the cloud gray potion and reeled it into the world of the real. Billie opened her eyes and a gold spark burst above her awaiting palm and out dropped the gray potion she saw in her mind a moment before. She clutched it with the last strength of her life, prepared to sacrifice herself for all those above her in the world, and more importantly, the people she loved around her.
"So you all can live..."
... were the words that got intercepted into Christy's head as she passed in and out of consciousness, coming straight from her younger sister, the one she swore to protect as her last and only act of believable justice amongst her existence of pure-bred evil. After a failed attempt to flame over to Billie, she picked herself up from the ground and fought with control over her legs with her resisting body, proving herself the victor as she ran at Billie.
"This is it."
Christy ran even harder and faster, like a child racing during recess with all her friends watching, and quickly glanced over her shoulder where Rose was recovering from whatever had knocked her down in the first place. She looked back at Billie who was uncorking a potion and shouted, "No!" This distracted her long enough for Christy to tackle Billie onto the ground, hurting both of them greatly.
"Christy, no! Get off me!" Billie begged as Christy bound her body with her arms before throwing one arm back to punch Billie across her cheek with a great desperate blow caused by her betraying sacrifice.
"I live for you, Billie!" Christy struck her again, both pissed and close to very human tears. She broke Billie's tight grip and snatched the potion out of her hand before kissing her forehead; harsh and loving. She grabbed Billie from underneath her arms and lifted her off the ground and threw her out of the circle of ashes Cameron laid, preparing her for whatever effects this potion was going to have.
Quickly, Christy uncorked the potion and drank every last drop, forcing her hand over her mouth when she wanted to vomit the not-so-smooth, but rather thick, flavors of brimstone, sulfur and wet chalk off her tongue and out her throat. Swallowing it all, unable to reject it to defeat Valen, she stared down Rose who was on her feet and staring at her curiously. "I'm done being your little bitch," the firestarter growled, summoning a weak fireball into her palm as Billie cried out behind her to flee.
"Then be done you shall," Rose curtly replied before blasting a greater-sized sapphire sphere of power towards Christy who threw her fireball at the incoming attack. The sapphire fire swallowed Christy's power and continued its journey to its target, striking her directly in the heart and off her feet where a glowing barrier kept her bound within the circle.
With one last scream cut short, Christy dropped to the ground, sacrificed and no more.
Her throat burned the higher Billie screamed, "NO!", carrying the note out for stretches of time and repeating herself when the word was growing dry and no longer carrying the desperate meaning behind it. Having prepared only for her own death, the sacrifice of her sister crashed into her like a truck colliding into a juvenile bicycle – both unexpected and severely painful. Billie grabbed at her heart as she crawled towards her sister, or namely, her sister's body.
"Christy!" Billie shouted as she picked herself up and ran to the corpse where the barrier surrounding it emitted sparks at another's presence. The sparks struck Billie all around, her bare arms, her unguarded face, but she pushed forward past the blistering pain before phasing through the barrier. She dropped to her knees and cradled her arm underneath Christy's head and ran her other hand through her light brown curls. "Christy, Chri-, no. Just, no."
Footsteps approached Billie and the sorceress turned and saw Rose menacingly approaching, a panther stalking down a defenseless prey. Billie glared and screamed, "Back away! No, stay back!" She broke her hand free out of Christy's hair and raised it at Rose, projecting a blast of variant colors that unsteadily exploded against Rose's armor, not having any effect due to Billie's indecisiveness of what she wished to make done against the enemy.
If there was something Billie knew she wanted, she spoke it to Christy, "No! Christy, please! I'm sorry that I was – no, it's just... Please!" She looked up at the ceilings and begged to all the heavenly forces above and screamed, "I need more time! Please, I need more time! I need time with my sister!"
Something felt different.
She felt herself lingering in a place she had no business to be in. Billie looked around and felt as if the world had changed within a blink that she never had. Her eyes never closed, yet here she was, standing atop a gray marble platform surrounded by a raging fire that she instantly trusted wouldn't burn her. She took a couple of footsteps, her body absent of the pain from her battles, and held her clean, bloodless hand close to the fire and relished in the breeze it gave off instead of violent heat.
Beyond the fire were tendrils of energy dancing chaotically in colored patterns of cotton white and sunflower yellow lost inside clouds of black and blood red. Violent winds blasted out from the energy clouds and through the fires and relaxed Billie until a lightning bolt exploded a couple of feet away, birthing a small fire into existence. The fire stretched into the sky and stopped at Billie's height, forming her sacrificed sister.
Christy looked the same as she did when she died. Still war-stricken with sweat and blood and cuts and bruises, some caused by Billie herself. "Dying isn't any more fun the second time around, sis." The two lunged into one another's arms, squeezing the breaths out of one another. "It's better this way. You know, with me dead and you not." She pushed Billie back a bit so she could see her tear-stained face and joked, "I don't think death would go well with your shoes."
"I wish you didn't do that. You were doing good, you were making a recovery on our side and-"
"I would've never been fully accepted by your people. The Old Robes up in their cloudy courtroom would've never trusted an ex-assassin of the Triad and that would probably go the same for the Halliwells. Those sisters were your family when I wasn't around to be and even when I was by your side, I used you selfishly. I got my second chance tonight and I'm not done yet, am I? If you were going to go out with a bang to take down that Queen Bitch, I guess that's my car to drive now."
There was no point asking Christy how she knew everything. Besides the telepathic discussion they shared, all secrets must've been revealed when Billie was ready to down the potion. All she could respond with was a whisper, "Christy..."
"Billie, we don't have the time. It was a spell, right? I don't know exactly where we are right now, I'm guessing it's a limbo of some sorts, but before I'm dropped down to the pit, I want to drag Valen and Rose with me by the hair," Christy declared with a grin, a couple of her back teeth stained with blood.
"You're not going to Hell, Christy."
The firestarter shrugged her shoulders, "I've burned enough for a lifetime, literally. I really don't wanna see if the Devil exists because I doubt I'd be welcomed into his winged embrace being the piss-poor assassin I was, but it's not for me or you to say."
Billie began to re-experience some of the pain from the battle, but did her best to ignore it. "Don't give up hope. If this spell works, there's no way you'll be denied. It takes a great sacrifice of a pure-hearted person to make this work. I have no doubt you'll drive Valen down for good."
"I guess we got our answer then. If Valen dies, maybe the Big Guy will reward me with Heaven – probation, of course, but not Hell," Christy grabbed Billie's hand and noticed the blood and bruises reappearing all over her little sister. "We're running out of time. How does this work? The spell."
"It's the Ritual of the Spiritus Rector, which was supposed to be me, or at least I thought it was. Maybe it was you all along. I could've just been the messenger," Billie suggested and carried on. "This spell is a lot like a prayer, it's written in some nameless language. It's pretty predated stuff. There have been translations throughout the ages and I know a current one, but if you just understand me from your ghostly plane and chant the language that will come to you naturally because you're now..." She paused, earning an almost angered look from Christy that urged her on. "Dead. Because you're dead, you'll know the language and can chant it from your side."
"Got it. You chant and I'll chant, but my words are the ones that matter, right? I'll be singing that bitch one last lullaby?" Christy asked, getting her answer with a nod. "I like the plan." The fire began to close in on the two, ready to incinerate Billie's stray astral soul back into her body and Christy onto the battlefield to serve her last act. "Billie, I need you to promise me something. And I'm pretty freaking serious about this."
"Okay. Whatever, I promise."
"Leave me dead. I have no place amongst the living, I just don't. I was raised by the worst of wolves, I'm incapable of too many human things. I can try, but it feels like a lie to save people I don't know or have any connection to. I know that comes natural to you, but your heart is different than mine. I was tainted and I'm glad that when you killed me that first time, I came back with a pure love for you that I would've been executed for," Christy rushed out, sensing the fire inches away from her. "Don't summon me, don't go through time to change this. Just forgive me. And hell, pray for my soul."
The two embraced one last time as the blizzard cold ring of flames encompassed them, not harming them with its flames because Christy would never again hurt Billie, in life or death.
Billie woke up lying on top of Christy's body, having collapsed onto her when her astral self was projected into that deathly plane to have more time with her sister. She looked over at Rose who was battling Cameron and a couple other Phoenixes that spent their better time of the battle defending the main crew from interference.
The mercenary that Billie cared greatly for hopped over Rose before unleashing a fury of bladed strikes against her back, both distracting and tiring her out. The Hell-Queen spun around to crack Cameron's face with her elbow, but he dissembled his body into countless particles and reformed on the ground at her feet where he quickly stabbed her with both sais in her abdomen. "Do you feel all those curses running through your old blood?"
Rose's eyes widened at the existing pain before she collected a deep breath and held her hands together. An orb of energy manifested that she launched into Cameron, tearing his body apart in an unearthly fashion; the particles all flew in different directions, never returning to one another to recreate the man known as Cameron Hawke. Just as the other two Phoenixes struck, she telekinetically banished them to the other side of the lair, not threatened by them.
The true threat rose in the shape of a powerful sorceress, wounded in several places, mourning her last link of blood family, and not seeing Cameron rematerialize only added to her anger. She looked at all the wands stationed around as Rose stepped inside the triangle and commanded the power in their cores, "Ignite." An orange flare shot from the tips of each wand, connecting with one another and caged the great Queen.
Billie then felt Christy behind her and turned around and saw her spirit floating a couple feet behind her. The two nodded at one another before focusing only on Rose. "You've lived too many lifetimes. If only you would've kept to the better part of those years where you didn't show your face."
The sorceress held out her hands, ignoring all remarks from Rose as she recalled the spell into memory while simultaneously projecting all the demons into the pyramid with her, but outside of her own ringed barrier. Billie started with the spell, stopping after each line to give Christy a moment to keep up as she pronounced every word in an unidentifiable tongue, but both sisters held their palms pressed together in prayer to the higher forces they were calling upon.
Embers to flames, raindrops to storms,
Where breath has been drawn,
Yours has been stalled,
Immortal once, but now no more,
Mortality crawls to snatch your soul.
All the sacrificial demons exploded out of their shells, their flesh torn apart quickly to unleash the spirits that sparked life into the animation of beings known as Valors. The crowd of faceless spirits hovered into the air and slowly began to mist into one another, immediately striking fear into the features of Rose. Her sapphire eyes widened and she took a couple of steps back at this unholy sight and quickly threw her head back where she released a scream loaded with the anguish of a parent who lost its child, the horrible pain of someone burned alive, and even the broken hearts of two supposed-to-be destined lovers.
Rose herself glowed a flaring blue as navy smoke funneled out of her mouth and eyes, leaving a spectral monster with countless arms and legs swimming through the air, looking down at Billie, directly at Christy's spirit and the spiritual sacrifices respectively with her three, undistinguished heads. This mammoth sized specter was the closest true form anyone had ever seen of the Hell-Queen Valen.
As Rose's body dropped down to the ground, eyes frozen open, Valen spun around, knowing wiser than to fight, and flew past Billie and was rebounded by the mystical energy of the wands. As the demon's essence persistently pounded against the barrier, close to breaking it, Billie broke concentration for a few moments to throw her hands out and restrain the unholy demon, which felt a lot like grabbing solid smoke.
With a firm grip, Billie continued the chant, repeated by Christy in spiritual tongue...
Fires and storms come to a calm,
Extinguished by our merged final breaths,
And your end shall be met with the echoes of souls,
imprints you've animated out of death.
As Christy said "death" in the nameless language, which sounded a lot like a click and a hiss mixed together, the souls merged together to form their very own Reaper, one much like the one that conquered Valen centuries ago, but this Reaper would not bury her alive for what was supposed to have been eternal torment. Some of the souls took the shape of a scythe that the new Reaper swung at Valen, hacking away at her essence, throwing swirls of her navy energy into the air the way a child would peel a scab. The Reaper continued to graze her, stab her, attacking its creator in remorse for the time spent away from the afterlife they wished to own, but forced to obey her bidding.
A tremor triggered through the Underworld, ready to open its hellish mouth in planes far below to welcome a great entity.
Billie glanced over her shoulder at Christy, who gracefully floated above her, anchored by the spell, and once the final words were shared, she'd move into the afterlife. She solemnly smiled at her sister and mouthed, "I'll pray for you." Christy only nodded, then looked over at Valen who was beginning to smack the spirited-soldiers that constructed this Reaper with her arms, building a defense...
The sorceress focused and shouted the final words of the vanquishing prayer to be echoed by the spirit of her sister, the one with the boldest heart to die for more than just her sister, but a world of innocents she felt no love for and the Underworld's nations of demons who needed to survive to protect the Balance of All.
And from Hell you were born,
To Hell you'll waste.
The Reaper glowed in a stunning silver llight and drove through Valen's essence with more intensity, chopping off her legs and arms before severing all three of hers in the most sudden of seconds. Sapphire flames and neon blue lights exploded out of the stomach of Valen, blowing her apart, leaving nothing but a whisper of a cry amplified a billion times in a Hell no mortal soul could reach. When the sapphire flames finished swallowing the Reaper, full of spirits who would never to rest again, but only be nothing, Billie looked up to see the last shadow of Christy fading into her afterlife. The will to cry came, but no immediate tears were summoned with all that was going on.
Christy was gone, but she was granted a good-bye.
Cameron was gone in a suddenness that Billie couldn't believe.
And Rose began to roll to her side, alive.
The sorceress cautiously approached the ever-dangerous Rose on the ground, who had long promised to kill Billie herself before acting as a vessel for Valen, and her hand shone violet and within the glow manifested a long-sword. She inched towards Rose slowly, dragged down mostly by the grief of a sister and Cameron she couldn't relax to mourn until she was safe from the assassinating half-witch sprawled on the ground who began rolling back and forth.
Soft whimpers escaped Rose's lips and Billie couldn't make out the words that followed, each separated by a breath. She was now a safe enough distance of three feet away to make out that the words were Spanish, Rose's native language. Billie daringly looked behind her and saw all three Charmed Ones approaching, Paige finally healed by Phoebe both borrowing and applying her power, and didn't know what to tell them or do to Rose.
Rose was dangerous and forever would be dangerous. Billie doubted she would ever make the effort for redemption, not the way that Christy did... And yet, she couldn't get herself to raise the sword to slay this dragon while it was caught off guard.
The pyrokinetic witch began to cry as she leaned up, her back to Billie, clawing at her hair and face desperately, trying to rip something off. The cry grew louder as Rose finally fell out of her Spanish-speaking trance, the language she spoke with her mother when she was young and terrified, and cried out in English without the tone of a Hell-Queen living inside her, "I see nothing. Not the air, not the colors, not anything."
The sorceress focused her attention to Rose's bare neck, the exposed tattoo of a delicate rose with blue flames emblazoned around the petals, and this could all be done right now. Slay the dragon, Billie thought to herself. Slay the dragon that Christy wanted to drag to Hell with her. No, not Hell... Not for Christy.
The panting and cries of Rose grew louder as the demonic witch struggled to her feet, unable to maintain balance. She dropped back to the ground and attempted to stand once more, but only stayed up for a moment and a half before falling to Billie's feet. Her eyes shot skyward as she cried out, "NO!"
Billie's eyes widened as they connected with Rose's glazed white eyes. "You're blind..." she whispered.
Rose bounced onto her back, crawling in reverse on the heels of her hands as she shook her head side to side, "You... You bitch, you did this to me!" She stopped to unleash a very mortal scream and scratched at her eyes and face some more. "Get it out of my head, get it out of my head!" Another scream.
Registering that Rose was now seeing something in her head, Billie dropped the longsword and ran backwards to the Halliwells. She grabbed Paige by the wrist and said, "She's blind, but she's seeing terrible things still. What the hell is going on?" She glanced over at Phoebe who began to cry and clutch at her heart, both fearfully and sympathetically. As Phoebe took many steps backwards, looking as if she was ready to faint, Billie asked, "Phoebe, you alright?"
"She's seeing Hell," Phoebe reported, attempting to shake her head free of the images she just received, but in truth, no one forgets Hell, not even seven seconds worth. Phoebe would be tormented with these nightmares until her final day.
"Must've come with the Valen package," Paige responded as Phoebe continued backwards, staying a great distance away. She looked mournfully at Rose, "I tried to save her so long ago..."
"Is she past saving? Can we kill her?" Billie turned back over to Rose, who's face was growing bloody with each new scratch of her own offense and asked, "I mean, should we put her out her misery? This is no way to live, I don't think she even deserves to see Hell forever."
The blonde approached Rose some more, wondering if she had the power within her to erase the images, but not only did she feel exhausted of all the power she exercised already, she knew the memory of Hell would overcome anything she might manage. She crouched down and considered placing a hand on Rose's shoulder, but decided against it. "Rose..."
The panicking half-witch swung her fist out, successfully reaching Billie's jaw on instinct only and knocked the blonde onto her back. "You stay away from me, pendeja! You and your freakin' filthy Whitelighter forced me into this!" She spat on the ground, missing Billie by inches, and continued on, "Why couldn't you all just leave me alone?"
Paige now reclaimed charge and stood over Rose, "Because I wanted to stop you from making the choices you made. Life is scary at times, sure, but the choices you made out of fear weren't pressed on you. You wanted to feel safe with your powers by your side, powers I never wanted to take away from you, but in doing so, you decided to sleep with the devil as well." The Hell-tormented witch only listened, cringing every now and again from a horrific mental sighting, but she didn't run away. "And where is that devil who promised you aid so long ago? As you're punished with watching Hell on the endless channel of your mind, where is he to help you?"
Sapphire flames flickered in between Rose's olive-skinned hands, then crawled up to her elbows and dissipated. The flames returned once more, before vanishing out again. All the witches around her watched cautiously and prepared gestures with their hands that would protect them, then they all were shocked when a cannon-sized fireball of the same sapphire color exploded into existence a couple of feet above Rose's head. The fireball continued to increase in size, heat, and the violent crackling sound as Rose cried out, "Hell is hurting my eyes..."
The more pain Rose felt, the angrier she got, and with that, more power piled into the already massive fireball that was now the size of small demonic lair. A harsh blazing blue glow was cast over all the women, including Rose who's face was mixed with the blood of her self-infliction and the sweat of the profound, burning bomb hovering over her.
The stray Phoenixes ran over to the Charmed Ones and Billie and one quickly said, "I don't think you guys are nearly as reparable as me and my guys are, so I suggest we get the hell out of here."
Cameron, Billie thought, more than his name, but everything he's ever done and could've done for her. This chord struck her greatly to the point where she had to restrain herself from making all that fire shower down on its caster...
"I'm with that guy," Piper agreed, running a foot past Billie to grab Paige's shoulder and start dragging her back. "She's past hope. We have too much going on for us to die for her, I'm sorry to say. Our families, Paige."
Paige and Billie looked at one another, helplessly lost at what to do. Allow Rose to burn down with the rest of this palace as all her power channeled into what was once an ordinary fireball or save her as well hopefully find a cure to her Hell-torment? Leaving her to die felt wrong and neither of them could bring themselves to do it.
They both looked over at Rose and noticed a sword lifting off the ground. Assuming Billie was behind it, Paige shouted, "Billie, don't! You're not a killer, no matter how evil she was!"
"It's not me..." she muttered softly as a fractured hand of black particles lifted the sword by its dark hilt. More particles began to build from the middle of the air behind Rose and connected with each other, forming an intensely cut up Cameron.
His face was scratched more than Rose's, tears of blood streamed out of his exhausted-looking gray eyes and down his scarred cheek as he whispered into Rose's ear with chapped lips, "I'm like a cat..." In a sudden movement, he slid the longsword across her neck like the bow against a violin, but no music or screams sounded as the slit against her throat struck Rose dead. He dropped her corpse to the ground as the fire above him dissipated into a clouded mist and panted, "A really pissed off cat with more than nine lives." He rose to his feet, wiped blood off his cheeks with his torn sleeve and muttered, "Bitch."
Seeing Cameron alive relieved her buried emotions, but Christy was still gone. There was no room for smiles just yet. The sorceress walked over to Rose's corpse, resting on its side with white eyes petrified open and asked aloud, "What do you think will happen to her?" She was more concerned about Christy, but felt the need to ask. "Her spirit, I mean."
Paige noticed that Billie was swaying side to side, ready to collapse from everything that happened from Christy dying, vanquishing Valen, thinking Cameron to be dead to only return to kill Rose and the impact was about to hit and siren their triumph any second now...
The Witchlighter walked over and kept Billie stable by hugging her with one arm around her waist while leaving a hand on her shoulder, "Well, unlike Valen who's going to suffer a very final death..." she drifted off as she looked over at Rose, still wearing the armored plate of Valen's on her chest and continued on, "Rose may be given another chance. She foolishly sacrificed her body and mind to a demonic entity, but it was done out of fear. Maybe the nice and forgiving Bearded Guy up in the clouds will write this one off as a temporal death and allow her spirit to be recycled." She massaged Billie's shoulder and added, "Like Christy."
Hearing Christy's name spoken by a sympathetic Paige struck Billie like a lightning bolt from an open blue and cloudless sky on a summer's morning; she slipped past Paige's grip and dropped to the ground, crying uncontrollably at their victory and the price of it. She looked over at her sister's still body and thought of Christy and where her soul currently was and wanted to break the promise so bad, just to have a sneak peek on how she was doing...
The suddenness of familiar hands gripping her arms as Paige's slipped away broke her thought and she looked up into Cameron's attacked face and assumed this happened when he was broken apart by Valen's blast. It didn't matter, they were both alive and there wouldn't have to be any regrets about not saying anything. She buried her face into his chest and just cried tears for many occasions such as winning, surviving and grief amongst others.
The assassin then pressed his scarred lips on the sorceress' blood-stained forehead, an almost disturbing sight to see such loving affection in a dark phase between the two warring lovers, but they won, and from here, they would all start anew together.
End of Chapter.
A/Note: That's it! The finale will be approaching soon enough, guys! I'm working on it, but it's gonna take a while. I'm not rushing the writing, it's kinda, the end. So that's important to get right, I think. Look for updates on my main page though! Review, please!