Power and Insight
Greg Bishansky

September 26th, 1995

Tonight was perfect. Xanatos was out of the castle, as was his woman. Even his servant, that accursed trickster was gone. The castle was empty, save for any guards assigned to watch over the billionaire's home. But they would not be any trouble to her.

Demona soared through the clear sky over Manhattan, her lavender wings capturing current after current as she made came closer and closer toward the jewel of the city's vast skyline. The Eyrie Building was immense, a structure that seemed to rise almost forever above the street into the clouds to its crown, a castle from the past, built over a thousand years ago when Prince Malcolm and her former leader and mentor made a pact of mutual protection.

Demona's eyes burned red as hot coals. The humans could not keep a bargain to save their worthless hides. But no matter, they would soon be wiped out, and afterwards, she might even reclaim the castle and again make it her home.

She circled the building as she made her way up. Finally she swooped between the steel support beams and came to a rest, digging her talons into the old stone foundations of the castle. She briefly looked down through the glass skylight below her into the arboretum, almost admiring its beauty for something created by humans before returning to the task at hand.

Demona cracked a sadistic smile. When Xanatos had moved the castle over from Scotland, he brought its foundations as well. Back when the castle stood on Wyvern Hill, its foundations went deep into the ground where there were cliffs and ancient catacombs. Secret passages were built into the castle then, and she knew that they must still be there. Slowly, she explored the foundations, seeking an entrance. After several minutes, she came upon well hidden but unnatural cracks in the stone.

She quickly forced the door open. A thousand years ago, she'd entered this passage through one of the caves, not while clinging to stone, hundreds of feet above the ground. She knew that while things may have changed on the outside, the inside of the door was still the same. A brief walk through a dark passage and she was greeted with the sight of the old, and now unused dungeons. She knew where she was going now.

Demona made her way through the various passages and corridors until she came to the Great Hall. Wings cloaked about her shoulders, she walked across the cold, marble tiles, opened the door on the south wall, and found what she had come for.

She stepped into Xanatos's personal museum, and was briefly impressed with what she saw. Even she had to admit he was a man of taste, everything he had was striking and expensive. Art, statues, jewels. All of it was one of a kind, but only one piece held her interest. However before she could take what she wanted, she needed to disable any security.

Reaching down to her waist, she pulled a rolled up scroll from her belt. Unfurling it, she quickly studied it waved her hand in what an outside observer would deem odd hand gestures and began to slowly chant.

"Qui quis resistere me invito esse patefacere et esse vanes ere!"

Green smoke seemed to generate from her taloned hand before spreading out through the chamber. As the fog expanded, security laser beams were revealed, only to disappear as if they were being erased.

Once the room was engulfed in the smoke, Demona ran towards her true quarry, lying on a pedestal at the far end of the chamber. She quickly snatched it and exited Xanatos's museum.

"At last," she purred. "It's mine."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Demona's lithe form soared through the night sky as she made her way back to her Gramercy Park townhouse. Plans, schemes and even fantasies rushed through her mind. Finally, she came to a graceful landing on her fifth story window and cloaked her wings around her shoulders.

She held up her prize, admiring it in the moonlight. A blue jewel, rimmed with gold to form the shape of an eye. Gold bands hung off its two corners so it could be worn as a choker. It was ancient, far more ancient than most would ever know. It was the Eye of Odin.

That fool, Xanatos, did not know what he had. If he did, he would not have been foolish enough to allow her to learn of it when he had briefly donated it to the Museum of Modern Art. He would not have been foolish enough to leave it where she could easily claim it. His mistake would be the key to her triumph.

Demona smirked as she admired her reflection in the Eye. Entering her home, she made her way to her study. She set the Eye on her desk and stepped towards her wall pulling a leather bound tome from a wooden shelf. Lighting a few candles, she set the book down on her desk next to the Eye and began flipping through its old, dusty pages.

At last, Demona found the passages she was searching for. The Eye of Odin was indeed ancient. It had been forged long before the days of the Roman Empire. According to the legend the Eye was once the true eye of the Norse God, Odin. The Asgardian All-Father had traded his eye, his power, for wisdom. Following that the eye was used to forge a talisman that would be a vessel of great power and insight for any mortal who would use it. Demona, of course, had full intention of using it.

"Power and insight," she said. "The power I'll need to finally destroy the wretched human filth!"

But why stop there, she thought. In the tenth century, when she had studied as the Archmage's apprentice, the sorcerer had often spoken of combining the powers of the Eye of Odin, the Phoenix Gate and the Grimorum Arcanorum. The old fool called the trinity of talismans 'the ultimate magical power'.

The Archmage was a fool. He suffered a fool's death, now dead and rotted away at the bottom of a chasm. But, despite his stupidity, his plan was still a good one, even she had to admit. The Eye was now hers. She already had half of the Gate. As for the other half and the Grimorum, they were in Goliath's possession. Although it might be difficult, she would take them from him.

"Vengeance," she mused. "After all these centuries I will finally have vengeance for the extinction of my kind!"

Wanting to savor this, she thought back to the past. Back to when the humans of Castle Wyvern betrayed her clan. When her clan protected the castle and that ungrateful Princess and her subjects repaid them with nothing but contempt. When the Captain of the Guard vowed to keep her clan safe as they slept during the assault by those marauding Vikings. She should have known better than to trust a human Every betrayal burned into her mind like a branding. Her clan was destroyed, she its only survivor. But, she didn't suffer this once, but twice. Decades later she allowed herself to forge an alliance years later with Macbeth. That alliance had cost her a second clan.

She started to seethe with rage as she remembered how after seventeen years of alliance… and even friendship with Macbeth. She should have known better. Her kingplanned to betray her to the English. Naturally, she wanted revenge and allied herself with the English in their mission to overthrow Macbeth and install his cousin, Canmore on the throne. But Canmore betrayed her as well, destroyed her clan, and his descendents have hunted her for the past millennia.

And these were the wretched wastes of flesh Goliath vowed to protect.

Demona snarled at the very thought of her former mate. Idealistic fool. This was all his fault too. If he had only listened to her a thousand years ago, their clan would never have been massacred. The very thought that humans would ever accept and live with them was an idiotic dream. Even to go so far as to befriend that Detective. She saw the way Goliath and Elisa Maza looked at one another, and the thought was enough to make her stomach turn. She would have to kill them, of course. Goliath would lead the remains of their kind to death, and as for the detective… the thought of whetting her talons with the human's blood brought a smile to her face. The rest of the clan however, if she wouldn't have their loyalty, she'd have their deaths as well.

Now she had the key to all her heart's desire. With the Eye in her hands, humanity's days perverting this planet were numbered. She reached forth to claim the Eye.

Her arm jerked to a stop. The Eye continued to lie on her desk. It was right in front of her, why could she not claim it? Again, she reached, and again she felt compelled to hold back.

Demona had no idea what was wrong with her. She stole the Eye from Xanatos, she brought it here, and she knew what she was going to do with it. Why now was she stopping herself from grasping it? Donning it? Using it to destroy human kind?

Power and insight, a voice spoke in her head. Her own voice. Are you prepared to gain insight into your soul? Insight into your actions over the last millennium?

This was absurd. Demona knew her actions. She knew her soul. She only fought to protect her people. The humans were the enemy. If she had done any evil, it was against the evil the humans were bringing to her and her kind.

Then put on the Eye and see for yourself. If you have any lingering doubts about your choices, put on the Eye and lay them to rest.

Demona snarled. The Eye was playing tricks on her, it had to be. No, she would show the Eye who was truly destined to command its power.

You are almost there. First the Eye, then you can claim both the Phoenix Gate and the Grimorum. You can destroy human kind, and lead the gargoyles towards a new age. All you need do is don the Eye. Perhaps you will be able to bring the insight you gain to Goliath and his clan. They will see that you were right all along, and swear fealty and beg for your forgiveness. But, if you're wrong, the insight might well destroy you.

"Silence," Demona yelled. "You are an object, a tool. You will not bedevil me."

Show them you were right. Show Goliath that he was a fool. Show Macbeth he destroyed his own kingdom when he conspired to betray you.

"Yes," she agreed. Again, she reached for the Eye. Again, she could not compel herself to touch it.

Are you afraid?

"No," she said. In fact, nervousness gave way to pride and what would come.

In her mind, a vision flashed. The world wiped clean of human kind. Thousands of gargoyles soaring over the streets and rooftops of the island the humans once called Manhattan. She saw herself standing on the highest parapet of the castle which now belonged to her and no longer to Xanatos. She was wearing the Eye around her neck, the Phoenix Gate on her belt, and carrying the Grimorum.

Dozens of gargoyles were arriving to pay tribute. Lead among them Goliath who kneeled before her of his own free will. All of them were acknowledging her as their immortal, beloved leader.

The vision faded and was replaced by a blazing inferno. Again she was at Castle Wyvern, but all around her, the clan lay dying. Animated statues were running around in a panic as they burst into flames and shattered into dust. All the while terrifying voices cried out to her. You did this.

"Enough of this trickery," she spat.

Demona reached forward and snatched the Eye from the desk and held it before her eyes. She would show the Eye that she was master, and it was a tool.

The moment of truth is upon you. Justice and retribution, but who will be claiming it? Will you claim it from humanity, or will you claim it from yourself. Ultimate power or a shattered psyche at the misery you made for yourself. Don the Eye and find out.

Again, she snarled. Placing the Eye around her neck, she was about to clasp the gold band securing it, when she began to tremble. No, she could not do this. She let go of the Eye and allowed it to fall to the tiled floor, where it landed with a loud clang.

Demona herself fell to her knees, numb, almost as if someone or something had frozen her in stone. She remained that way for a long time. Minutes or hours, it may as well have been weeks as she tried to process in her mind just what happened.

Was the Eye fearful of what she would do with its power? Was it merely playing tricks? Was it something else entirely? Or had it been her own subconscious …?

Her eyes burned red with rage. The Eye of Odin was useless to her. No, she would not keep it here to torment her any longer. Let Xanatos keep it. This jewel was cursed. But she would not let it bedevil her. Let it curse Xanatos. Let the Eye bring him suffering.

The arrogant smile returned to her. The knowledge that it would bring Xanatos the misery it brought her was all the medicine she needed to improve her mood.

With no resistance of any kind, she snatched the Eye. The accursed talisman held no power over her any longer, she thought. Knowing that humanity would die another night, she headed for her balcony, catching the first currents of wind and soared towards the castle.

The End.