Chapter 33: Retribution
The original title for this chapter was "retaliation", but after writing the chapter, I decided that it was too "light" of a word choice, considering what just happened.
Also, I would like to dedicate this chapter to one of my closest FFN friends, Kohaku no Hime, as sort of a "graduation gift" of sorts, since she is graduating from college. So wish her a very hearty congrats to her! :D
*****READ***** There was a VERY big mistake made. Chapter 45 was accidentally published in the place of this, which means that oodles of spoilers were probably revealed by accident. I PROFUSELY apologize for this mistake and I hope that there were not too many spoilers in there. :/ *hangs head in shame*
He knelt there in the busy street, his face slack and in disbelief, barely hearing the voice on the other end of the phone. Aaron and Odion had to almost forcibly drag him off the street, before he was run over by a vehicle or animal. At last, he spoke, voice hollow but full of anger. "Tshilaba."
"Hello Marik," she purred. "I trust that you're doing well, I hope. I fairly positive that Gurimo isn't, considering that you're using his cell phone."
"What do you want with me!" he shouted into the phone. "What did you do with her!"
"Ah, so she did mean something to you. Good, I have a pawn then."
"She didn't do anything! She was innocent! It's me you want!"
"Of course it's you I want, but it is much easier to do it this way. And more fun."
"What do you want?" he growled, punctuating his words through gritted teeth, fingers tightening their grip around the cell phone he had purloined.
"You know exactly what I want Marik. I want a duel with you, to settle this one for all. And if you win, maybe I'll be nice and surrender the items I have in my possession, your lover included."
"Okay, I'll play this little game of your Tshilaba," Marik drew out the last syllables of her former name, eliciting a growl on the other line. "Where and when?"
"Three hours from now, at seven pm, on the roof of the Marrakesh Warehouse." she hung up abruptly.
"What did she want?" Odion asked, one hand on Marik's shoulder.
"She wants a duel, at seven tonight, on the roof of some warehouse called Marrakesh."
"Seem simple enough," Aaron mused, voice steady and reassuring as he reached for his cell phone, one with built in internet. He typed in the name of the warehouse and the city, pulling up a map within minutes. "It's on the northwestern side of town, in a, let's shall we say, "unpleasant" area."
"That's not surprising," Odion said. "The location would be one for suit Tshilaba's needs. What about Sivya?"
"She said if I win, she'll give her location," Marik answered, clenching a fist as he recalled Tshilaba's deal. "But," he added, a dark twinkle in his eye, one that made Odion shudder. "We can get ahead of Tshilaba's game."
Aaron cocked a quizzical eyebrow. "And how do you propose that?"
"Simple: we find Sivya before Tshilaba finds out."
"You're thinking with magic," Odion finished.
"Bingo. Aaron, there's an abandoned building nearby, correct?"
Aaron went back to his smart phone, typing something on the touch screen, before coming up with an answer. "There's one about a couple of miles from here."
"Good. Let's get going."
They maneuvered the vehicle down narrow alleys and behind buildings, where they located the abandoned building. It was nothing more than a small warehouse, with a low, squat roof and an airy inside, where whatever it was was stored, until shipped to various areas. With the ease of a master thief, Marik picked the padlock barring all visitors from entering, with the assistance of a lockpicking kit Aaron carried as part of his arsenal.
The warehouse was musty, with the faint aroma of old spices and age permeating their nostrils. Everything was covered liberally with a thick layer of dust. When they slammed the door behind them, the dust stirred with the gust of wind, causing outbursts of coughing fits from the three of them. In his hand, Marik carried a small drawstring pouch, brown and worn from years of use and wear. In the other, he found Sivya's rhaita in amongst her things and he deemed it worthy for his spell. He found a clear area towards the center of the lot and knelt, blowing the years of dust off the solid cement floor, making a suitable workspace. In silence, he pulled out a piece of chalk, white, from the pouch and counting off the paces, began to draw a circle with a diameter of fifteen feet across. It was a perfect circle, drawn with a deft and steady hand. He had many years to practice his own creation, after all.
Then, he knelt and along the outer rim of the circle, began to draw the specific hieroglyphics needed for the spell. These were words of sealing and protection, intermingled with the task at hand, seeking out Sivya and her location.
Aaron watched in rapt fascination as Marik worked with a practiced ease of a professional, one who had done this numerous times. "What exactly is he doing?" he wondered out loud.
"Magic," Odion explained.
"I don't recall magic being worked like that before," Aaron remarked in wonder, recalling the many incidents where Ishizu had worked magic via her Millennium Necklace.
"That's because this is my own idea," Marik clarified. "Magic is, in a simple word, energy. It is all around us, and like the principle of matter and energy, it cannot be created, nor destroyed. It just is; however, just because it is easily accessible to a few, it does not mean that it can be easily controlled. The magic you witnessed was magic accessed through the realm of Duat, essentially the ancient Egyptian underworld. Both Ishizu and I, as well as the other bearers of the Items, were able to use the powers of Duat through the Items, a loci if you will. By accessing Duat though, we inherited the dangers of the beasts of chaos, shadow monsters.That is the primary reason for the circle, to keep the forces of chaos at bay. The circle also serves as its own locus, channeling and funneling the magical energies to a usable force.
"So, by creating the circle, inscribing the proper hieroglyphics, I can focus the magic to seek out Sivya, basically transmitting her location to us like a radio wave. Then, I'll transfer the power to a personal item of hers, this rhaita, which will act as a divining rod. That way, we can find her within a short while, assuming. . ." he trailed off, his mind wandering to area where it probably should not have gone. His fingers fumbled and the chalk nearly slipped from his hands. He froze, looking down at the hieroglyphic, frightened that somehow, he botched the pictograph and would have to erase and write it anew. He breathed in relief, seeing that it had not been disturbed. He forcibly pushed the thoughts aside, going back to his work. When he finished the first ring of pictographs, he drew another concentric circle around it, sealing it it. He gingerly stepped over the already written lines, careful to not disturb his previous work. He wrote another series of hieroglyphics, different ones, but they had the same purpose as those written before them: spells of protection, seeking and locating. Then, Marik too, sealed those in with a third ring and finally, did the final lines of hieroglyphics, effectively protecting them from anything dark and wicked coming their way, drawn by the lure of magic.
Marik stepped back inside and continued working, drawing a seven point star inside, representing both the Millennium Items and simply, the power of seven. According to many numerologies, seven was a powerful number, representing the symbol of completion. Three was also an important number, which was why he did three rings.
He pulled out seven cones of incense, of myrrh, frankincense and kapet and placed them at each of the seven point lighting them. He placed the rhaita in the center of the many pointed star, the flute in line with north and south.At last, he stripped his shirt off, a symbol of purification, and tossed it out of the ring, far enough away as to not disturb the markings.
"In order for this spell to work to its fullest capacity, I need both of you with me, inside the circle."
"Both of us?" Aaron practically squeaked.
"Yes. Since I cannot be the one to locate Sivya in person, I'll need one of you to seek her out. I'll have to fine tune the spell, so that I can transfer the powers of the location spell to one of you."
"I'm sorry Marik, but I will not allow you to fight Tshilaba alone, not with the tricks we have seen her pull in the past few days," Odion said, firm and vehement.
"Then I'll take the responsibility of finding Sivya," Aaron bowed slightly. "I promise that I'll find her safe and sound."
"Thank you. Ishizu could not have picked a better person to help us," Marik admitted, seeing a slight flush rush to Aaron's cheeks.
"I'm glad I could help."
Marik went back to the circle at hand. "Now, since I am the one who created the circle, only I am allowed inside the circle, so in order for you to assist me, I'll have you repeat these words to me: 'I seek permission to enter inside the circle, Magician Marik Ishtar of the Ishtar clan.' Then, I allow permission and you then step inside the circle, and avoid touching the circle. Since I'll be transferring the powers of the spell to you, you have to enter first."
Aaron hesitated, eying the circle. His fingers went to grip the Star of David necklace he wore around his neck, a gift from his grandfather when he was a young man, first training for the Mossad. It seemed unnatural, to be a willing participant in these matters, he told himself. But, if what Marik had said, then magic is merely a neutral entity in the world, energy and all things were created by God, then should that not mean that magic was created by God and therefore, good? But as he had been taught, magic was a creation of darkness, practiced by heretics. It was a flurry of conflicting emotions, but it was to save the life of another, so, he swallowed, determined to bring this up with his rabbi once this whole adventure was over, if only for peace of mind.
"I seek permission to enter inside the circle, Magician Marik Ishtar of the Ishtar clan." he said, the words coming out easier than he expected.
"Permission is granted, Aaron Levi."
The weight of the world seemingly lifted off his shoulders, Aaron tentatively entered the circle, one step at a time. There was a slight pressure as he entered, like he was walking through a wall of force. The moment he fully entered, he swore he heard a slight 'pop', possibly from the feeling of pressure he felt.
"It's a normal phenomenon," Marik shrugged, seeing Aaron's marked confusion when he came inside. "You get used to it. Now, place your left hand on my left shoulder. The left hand side was very important to the Egyptians, because that was where the heart, the body of thought supposedly, is located." Aaron nodded wordlessly and Marik felt his hand settle into place. Odion then repeated the very same words Aaron had to and again, Marik allowed permission for Odion to enter inside the boundaries of the circle. Odion then did likewise, placing a hand on Aaron's shoulder.
Once everyone was settled into place, Marik nodded. "Now we may begin." He closed his eyes, whispering the spell that would ask the gods' shelter from the forces of chaos. Aaron shuddered as he saw the rings glow softly, before fading away. It was an unusual feeling, to be involved in such business. Something like a gun was physical, real; he could hold onto it and use it to devastating results. Same thing with a knife, a vehicle and even his hands and feet as he practiced Krav Maga, the Jewish art of self protection. But this, this was in another realm altogether, of things unseen and hidden, but they could be felt and heard, like the wind, the voice of God.
Marik's voice was imperceptible and incomprehensible as Aaron stood there, frozen in place, watching magic at work. He surmised that the young man was speaking in ancient Egyptian, for the syllables and consonants were nothing like Aaron had ever heard. The warehouse darkened as the forces of chaos, as Marik had predicted, came swarming to the circle, as moths would be lured to a flame. They were shadowy and wispy in form, transparent and solid all at once. Some were sleek and long in body, baring fangs that could easily be longer than his knife. Some were human like in shape, impish, chattering and squealing away as they assaulted the barriers that protected them; others were bulky, their bodies built of solid masses of muscles. Aaron's hand grew icy in fear, seeing things that he was positive would haunt his dreams later.
"Please God," he feverishly prayed. "Let me see this through, let me survive. I promise that I'll never ever violate our traditions ever again. I'll do everything my rabbi wishes me to do. Shoot, I'll even get married, like my poor mother wants, if you let me live. Please, oh please let me live. . ."
"Aaron," Odion's voice cut through his prayers like a searing knife. "You must will your energy through Marik, to give him strength to complete the spell. I will do the same, willing my energy through you, where you will then funnel it to Marik."
Aaron gave an imperceptible nod and closed his eyes, prayers forgotten as he imagined his energy, his life energy, as a river, a common image. He pictured it flowing down his arm, through the blood vessels like flood waters breaking a dam. He willed it through his fingertips, his left ones, into Marik's own person, into his heart. It was a silly thing to imagine, should a normal sane person attempt this, but after spending this much time dealing with the antics and eccentricities of the Ishtar clan, this was normal.
The Mossad agent could sense a dip of energy, willing it away to the body of another. It was tiring, sweat trickling down his face, into his eyes and mouth, salty rivers. He was shored up by Odion, whom, like he, was also channeling his life's energy, only for Aaron to shuttle it to Marik. It felt like a eternity, to stand like this, frozen, as your own body threatened to give in, but the force of the spell was keeping him upright.
Tempted, he peeked one eye open, to see the shadow creatures, those forces of chaos, still hammering away at the barriers of the multi-layered spell, hissing and crying out in frustration as they attempted, in vain, to gain a foothold and devour them all. The noises they made were harsh and screaming at times, at others, like the pitiful mews of a kitten. He took a glance at Marik, whose hands were hovering over the rhaita. The flute was spinning ans twirling in mid air, just under Marik's splayed fingers, glowing with a soft silver light, gaining intensity as time passed. The flute spun faster and faster as Marik's voice rose and fell in cadence, no longer sounding like himself. It was deeper, more sonorous, as his will was worked through the language of his ancestors, funneling the magical energies to a mere flute.
Then, just as voice grew to a crescendo and the flute under his hands was spinning and glowing like a miniature sun, he faded away, the flute ceasing in midair, the silver light dying, winking out. The energy drain was proving too much for the Mossad agent and he slowly sank to his knees, his muscles cramping and twitching, heart thundering in his ribcage, breath coming out in staggered gasps. He maintained his iron grip on Marik's shoulder and in his fogy state, wondered if somehow, he managed to find a nerve point, actually inflicting pain on the young man.
He watched, blackness creeping in his vision, as the monsters surrounding them, laying siege to the circle, began to edge away in retreat, to be one with the shadows once more, no longer a threat.
"Thank you," he praised, sagging in defeat, closing his eyes, wanting nothing more than a nap and maybe a very large meal. It would seem that magic casting burned calories like nobody's business.
Marik managed to extricate himself from Aaron's sturdy grip, wondering if the man's fingers would leave bruises the next morning.
"It's over," Marik gasped, sitting upright. "We did it. I managed to find Sivya and found a way to allow you to use it as well."
"That's fine and dandy, but wow, does this take a lot out of you," Aaron conceded.
"It was much easier with the Millennium Rod," Marik said. He picked up the rhaita, looking as innocent as ever, and passing it off to Aaron. "Now to use the spell, all you need to do is concentrate on it. The rhaita should recognize that you're the holder of the spell and allow you access. Then, should you need to check your location in comparison to Sivya's and point you in the right direction.
"Okay then." Aaron placed the flute in the palm of one hand, the other hovering just above it. He stared at the item, as Marik had instructed, concentrating on the item. At first, there was nothing, but then it began to rise slowly in the air, wobbling slightly. The mouthpiece pointed in a northerly direction. "It worked," Aaron said, awed. "This stuff really does work."
"Told you." Marik stood up, knees threatening to buckle but by sheer force of will, managed to stay upright. He swiped the chalk dust off his pants and hands, putting out the incense cones one by one. "Now, we need to get going." He took a look at Gurimo's phone. "We got about a hour and a half to meet up with Tshilaba and get back all she stole from us. Including Sivya."
Marik's on a warpath here folks. Never ever, mess with that man's friends and family. You'll probably end up on a one way ticket to the afterlife of your choosing, and it won't be a happy one either.
And for those curious, I have uncovered what I dub, "The Unification Theory of Science Fiction and Fantasy". It is essentially built on the principle of magic, which is in pretty much in every major sphere of fantasy and science fiction. Magic is energy, nothing more nothing less. It is everywhere and those who are able to 'sense' it can use it. Spells, gestures and items are machines. As machines in the modern world harness energy, these things harness the magic and put it to good use. One can even apply the unification theory to Star Wars (the Force) and ATLA and LOK (benders are genetically able to naturally harness the energy and convert it to bending, manipulating their surroundings). Think of every single series that uses magic and the basic principles are there.
Somehow, I think Jim Butcher had something to do it. You know what I'm talking about, roffle. (Yes, I'm talking to you :D )