I walked down the hall slowly. I was grasping at straws and I knew it. There's no way that someone on the White Council would dare help me out, at least not any of them that knew who I really was. I paused at the door to the office I needed, read the sign and rolled my eyes involuntarily (yes, invented that and passed it on to my daughters).
It read "Harry Dresden, WIZARD". From just the sign I could tell a lot about the man I was seeking for help. He really didn't give a rat's ass what people think. I like that in a mortal.
I knocked on the door, three solid knocks, by the third knock the door opened. The tall man on the other side of the door was putting on a black leather duster the likes that I hadn't seen anyone seriously wear since 1920 in Texas. He was obviously preparing to leave as I knocked.
He gave my white hair a double take and stepped back quickly, reaching for a staff leaning against his desk that was as tall as I was. Hey, it happens a lot. Humans aren't use to white hair on a young face. This wasn't just that sort of reaction though.
I could feel the power pull in around him. Felt it blow past me, like a breeze off a desert plateau. Hot and wild. Wow, this kid had serious magic muscle. I had to fight to keep from flinching out of instinct. Thousands of years of experience still doesn't trump the hard wired human instinct I possessed. I was, after all, the prototype for it.
After a quick second, and a few blinks of his dark eyes, his shoulders relaxed and he stood up to his full height. He was a tall one. I was slightly over six feet without shoes on and he still made me feel short. Dark hair and dark eyes, two days of beard growth that only made more clear his sharp chin and hawkish nose. I doubt his hair ever looked like it was properly brushed even when it was.
I smiled softly and extended my hand to him. "Harry Dresden, I presume?"
He looked at my hand, not taking it. So he still wasn't sure his eyes weren't playing tricks. He nodded, "Yes, Ma'am".
"Oh, well," I dropped my hand. "May I come in?"
"I was just on my way out, walk with me to the stairs." He grabbed up the staff, and brushed past me somehow without ever touching me.
I frowned at the back of his head as his long strides took him down the hallway. A few strides of my own and I caught up, reaching the elevator slightly before him and hitting the button.
He walked past the elevator to the stairs and opened the door and headed in. Right, wizard, stairs, got it. Wizards are notoriously bad on technology. Elevators would be considered a bad idea if he was worked up about something.
I stayed on his heels, not one to be brushed off easily. "I was hoping, Mr. Dresden, you could help me out. I need to find something that's been lost a long time, I hear you're good with finding lost items."
He paused a moment on the landing of the 4th floor. "Just a lost and found?"
I nearly ran into the back of him. "Well, it's not quite that easy."
“It never is.” He replied, but his demeanor suddenly changed. I felt him let go of a bit of power from around his staff and his left hand. He started down the stairs again, slower this time. “What is it you’ve lost?”
My rightful home? My humanity? My mind? I decided to keep on target. “A book, a very old book.”
“Well, of a sort, yes. It was given to my ex a long time ago. “
He leaped the last few stairs to the ground floor, standing in front of the door that led to the lobby of the building, blocking it, looking much larger than he had at the top of the stairs. His stance had changed, he was obviously use to trying to look harmless, but it was an effort. He was now standing full and tall, his arms no longer tucked into his sides, his stance open and wide. I’m sure most people wouldn’t be pleased to run into him in a dark alley.
“What’s the name of this book?” It was more of an accusation than a question
I stopped one step up from the floor so I could look him directly in the face, not into his eyes though, I didn’t dare chance what a Soulgaze with me would do to his mortal mind. I stood there, on my high ground. “You have to promise me something first.”
He almost smiled, he fought it off though. His face read ‘so here’s the catch’. He clearly should never play poker. He just waited for me to continue.
“You cannot tell The Watchman what it is that I seek.” Moment of truth, he would either laugh at me, call me crazy, or simply turn and keep walking like he never heard me.
He smirked, “Yeah, we all know what a gossip Uriel can be.”
I flinched at the name. Dresden saw it. I clearly shouldn’t play poker either.
I lifted my chin defiantly at him. “Either promise on your power that you will not inform him, or I will find someone else to pay to help me in this endeavor. I hear there is a promising woman in California who has cheaper rates and is easier to work with than you are anyway.”
Take that, kid.
After a moment, after making sure he was composed, he answered, “I promise, on my power, that I will not tell Uriel what you seek as long as you pay half in advance.”
I rolled my eyes again, honestly, I can’t help it. “Good enough. I’m looking for a book titled ‘Sefer Raziel HaMalach’.”
He looked at me through lidded eyes and crossed his arms over his chest, his staff leaning across him. “You want me to help find the Book of Secrets? The one that the Archangel Raziel allegedly gave to Adam and Eve when they were tossed out of Eden on their keisters so they would know how to heal their mortal bodies and find their way back to God?” He shook his head in disbelief, “Lady, who do you think you are?”
I extended my hand out to him again, “I don’t believe we’ve met, but you apparently know much about my keister. I’m Eve, nice to meet you.
Harry and Eve meet up at St. Mary's Church to discuss him taking her case. ... but what's that smell??
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
After a few more moments of him awkwardly not shaking my hand, we made arrangements to meet at St. Mary of the Angels in two hours. That gave me time to make a few calls and change into something less comfortable. As much as I like the looks and feel of modern clothing, the protection of my long, grey hooded cloak and its ability to hide my sword underneath it make it worth the hassle and weird looks.
I arrived at St. Mary's a little later than I had hoped. I took the front stairs a few at a time and swung open the large, heavy doors and into the Sanctuary. A quick glance around and it looked like I wasn't the only one running late. I made my way up the center aisle of the large church, letting my hand run along the edges of the right hand pews as I went forward.
As I approached the alter I could see up into the large dome above it and the large, beautiful mural just behind it. An artist's concept painting of Christ's mother, Mary, being raised into Heaven to be made Regina Angelorum, Queen of Angels, the other angels rejoicing around her.
My blood boiled at the sight.
Mary has ONE special kid and she gets raised to Angel status. I give birth to humanity, get one bad rap and I'm stuck down here in my own personal Hell. My hands were balled into fists and my teeth clenched when the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I could feel someone coming up behind me. I spun on my heel and drew my sword at the same time… and scared the bejeezus out of Harry Dresden.
He had thrown up a shield with his left hand faster than I could have brought my steel down on him. I took a deep breath and mentally told myself to chill out.
"Christ, lady! What gives?" he blurted as he released the power from his shield.
I shook my head, "Sorry, I'm just a little… out of sorts. Maybe this wasn't a good place to meet." My gaze moved back to the fresco of Mary and the Angels as I sheathed my sword.
Dresden stepped up at my side, carefully watching me in his peripheral vision as he also took in the painting. "Old friend?" He gestured to the image of Mary with his head.
I couldn't help but smile a little. "No, I hardly knew her." I turned left away from the altar and walked to where I could no longer see the offending portrait. Dresden followed a few steps behind and when I sat in the far corner of a pew, he joined me.
That's when I noticed the smell.
"Sweet Moses, what was your last appointment, Dresden? You smell like the Plagues!" I covered my nose with the arm of my cloak, hoping to filter some of the vile stench with the thick fibers.
I heard him grumble as he shuffled a few feet down the pew from me and he answered, "Mold Demons again. If you think this is bad, you should see my car." He rubbed his neck with his hand, using his elbow to block his face, which I'm sure was a bit pinker than it had been a moment before.
"I'm quite sure seeing your car wouldn't be a problem. Being downwind of it, that could cause some serious chemical burns to nasal passageways." I brought my hand down off my face and tested the air to make sure he was far enough away for the smell to be tolerable.
"You obviously haven't seen my car then." He gave me a cocky smile as he dropped his arm back down to his side. He was a good looking man, though he didn't quite know it. The random scars and evidence of a broken nose only added to his looks and none of it hid the fact that his heart loved to smile.
"True. I consider myself warned then." I cleared my throat and pulled an envelope out of my cloak and set it between us.
"As was our deal. " I nodded at the envelope full of cash.
He looked at the envelope and then up at me.
I didn't really know a lot about the man sitting in front of me. Rumors whispered by cloaked men in the dark, TV news reports of destruction and what his half-brother Thomas had told me. I had known his mother well and it appeared that the apple certainly fell close to her tree.
To some, he was a hero in a big dark coat. To others, he was a huge pain in the ass with a smart mouth. I figured he was probably somewhere in the middle. It's hard to be a hero without breaking a few eggs. I was very worried that he'd find my case a bit too high profile for someone who consistently was in the cross hairs of various factions. That he might choose self-preservation over an envelope full of cash.
I sat for a second, irritated, and then said, "What is the problem now? You won't touch me, you won't touch my money. We've just met, Mr. Dresden, I haven't even had the time to offend you properly yet, so would you do me the favor and share your concerns?"
He leaned back with a sigh and stared up at the ceiling. "Well, let's start with the fact that you just pulled live steel on me."
Alright, alright… the boy had a point there.
"Just because your paranoid doesn't mean Lucifer doesn't want your soul," I said. If only the poor child had any clue how true that was… for both of us.
"Okay, I can buy that." He conceded. "What I can't shake is your aura. You're something I've never felt before. Human, but… not." He shook his head indicating he couldn't quite put words to it. "My first impression was that you were Faerie."
Ah, so that explained his initial reaction to me when he opened the door. My aura coupled with my white hair. One plus one equals… "You thought I was Mab." He nodded in agreement and I had to laugh. "I'm human. I just have a nice juicy curse on me. One put on me by The Almighty for my transgressions against Him. You're probably not feeling the curse though. What you're sensing is the result of that curse, my life force. It's infinite, so it packs a punch on your senses. "
"So you're human, but you will live forever." He rubbed at his eyes. "How is that a curse?"
"Ever been in such emotional pain that all you thought you wanted was to die and get it over with?"
With weary eyes he replied, "Yeah." I realized how tired he looked now. How much older than his years he appeared to be.
"Imagine every day like that. Imagine every child you've brought into this world and loved dying and you are forced to watch it. Imagine watching all the pain in the world and knowing… it's all your fault."
He winced at the mental image I had provided then nodded. "Right, curse, got it."
I put out my hand to him. "Harry, take my hand. I promise I only bite if you ask really nicely and say please." I gave him a sly grin of my own and a wink.
He returned the smile, looked down at my hand and then slowly reached his right hand to me. I stopped him. "No, the other one."
I knew the glove that he wore on his left hand hid horrible burn scars. The hand could barely move and he felt very little in it, eventually he would regain most of his motion and senses in it. Wizards bounce back from such injuries given enough time. I had to prove something to him, I needed him to trust me.
For a moment, I thought he would balk and we'd be back at square one. He lowered his right hand, and defiantly shoved his left hand towards me. He tried to curl his fingers menacingly, but the hand just wouldn't play along with him.
I reached over and began to carefully remove the glove. He stared at my forehead as I worked it off his deformed fingers, not daring to look at it himself. I set the glove down and turned his hand upright by his wrist. There was one spot on his palm that was unmarred.
I looked up into his face and he started to pull the hand gently away from me. Before he could succeed, I placed my palm against his and wrapped my fingers quickly around his wrist. He nearly jerked his hand free as our skin touched. I closed my eyes and let my power move through my hand into his. It's difficult to explain the sensation. Like someone is pulling off strips of skin, but without the pain.
When I let go, he slumped back away from me. He was out of breath and looked a bit dazed. I was feeling a bit light headed as well. The boy had such power and had reflexively pushed back quite a bit with his will.
I handed him his glove back and he took it without a word. Then he looked at his hand again, and flexed his damaged fingers into a manageable fist. He blinked at it a few times, tested it again, and then looked up at me with his jaw slack.
"No charge." I said with a smirk.
A deep voice came from not too far behind me. "You really can do miracles, Eve." Michael Carpenter hobbled forward, heavily relying on his cane to do so. "It's clearly the miracle of a saint that leaves Harry Dresden speechless."
I stood to greet him. "Michael, it is good to see you again." He grabbed me up into a huge bear hug that, despite his weakened state, crushed the air out of me.
Harry stood up, still silent and began to look around the room.
"Is there a problem, Harry?" Michael asked as he released me.
"I'm just looking for the hidden cameras." He deadpanned and looked under a pew.
Michael put a hand on Harry's shoulder and gave him a hearty smile. "You'd just short them out if we tried such a thing."
Harry still looked puzzled. "How did you know we were here? How do you know her?" He jabbed a finger in my direction.
I was starting to get a little self-conscious now. I crossed my arms over my chest. "I asked Michael to come by and help me chip through that tough guy exterior. He assured me there is a soft center."
"… and not just his head." Michael joked.
Harry grumbled something that probably would be best not said in church and Michael frowned at it. "So you sent her my way with this crazy death quest?"
"No, she did not come to me until after she spoke to you earlier today. I know her story though and I think you should at least listen to her before you judge."
"How in the… " Harry paused to correct his language, "…HECK do you know her?"
"We had the same sword maker." Michael answered with a grin.
"The Archangel Michael made Amoracchius and…" Harry gestured at my hip.
"Hell's Bane." I supplied him. "Yes, he made them both and offered them both to those he thought worthy."
It seemed fairly clear to me now that Harry knew at least something of my plight. I was banned from Heaven. Forced to walk the earth for all time to witness the pain I had brought upon humanity. The Archangels were all given orders to destroy me should I even make an attempt to reach the Pearly Gates (which aren't actually pearly at all). The fact that one of those Archangels, the Prince of Hosts no less, had given me a tool that might work against that plan had the little hamster in his head spinning hard in its wheel.
A little light finally came on. "That's why you want me to shield this from The Watchman."
"And you approve of this, Michael?" Harry turned to his friend.
"I think you know me well enough to know that I believe everyone deserves a second chance."
Harry stuffed his hands into the pockets of his mantled leather duster, still wiggling the fingers of his left hand absent mindedly. He was a tall, rugged, good looking man on the outside, but a hurt little boy on the inside. I slowly reached for his arm, like you would reach out to a strange animal, and laid my hand on it.
"Harry, you don't have to help me, but right now, all my roads lead to you." I sighed. "I need a good detective, a powerful wizard and someone who's not afraid to tell God and the White Council to stuff it." I moved to face him square on and looked into his scruffy face and smiled. "Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi, you're my only hope."
I knew no chivalrous nerd as big as Harry could resist that line. His shoulders slouched in concession as all the resistance melted out of him.
"Fine, but if I'm in for a dime I'm in for a dollar. I'm not getting killed without knowing what we are up against and if it gets too hot, I'm out. I have the Doom of Damocles over my head and an apprentice to protect."
I bounced a little as he spoke, the smile on my face almost hurt but I was too happy to care. When he paused to take a breath, I jumped up and wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed his cheek. Then remembered clearly why I had been keeping my distance in the first place, hopped back and held my nose again.
Michael chuckled a little, "Ok, how about we talk about this over dinner over at my place?" He paused and sniffed. "Meet up in enough time that it takes Harry to shower and burn his clothes?" We all agreed, and Michael turned to leave in a hobble.
Harry bent down and picked up the envelope from the seat and stuffed it, without looking, into his pocket. He shook his head, "Lady, you don't play fair."
"You're right," I grinned, "but most women don't."
Halfway up the aisle to the doors, Michael turned and said "Oh, and Eve? Charity is making apple pie for dessert."
Could this day get ANY better?
Disclaimer: Harry Dresden and all established characters, settings, etc. are the property of Jim Butcher and ROC publishers. The original characters and plots are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
I always loved having dinner at the Carpenter's place. Eve gives us some insight on her quest.
I always loved having dinner at the Carpenter's place. I had met Michael back when he first took up the sword Amoracchius and was training with Shiro Yoshimo. He was young, headstrong, and idealistic and I could only hope he'd find a woman who could understand him and support him. Then he rescued Charity and I knew that it was just a matter of time.
Now, here they were 7 kids later and each child holding such promise. Who wouldn't envy their family? I know I did. Despite myself and my refusal to ever attempt a family unit again, they made me long for the days of my youth when it made me happy.
Harry had shown up smelling considerably better and Molly had been forbidden to cook, so the evening was going well. As the night got on, the older kids were putting the younger kids to bed and the conversation had turned from laughing and catching up to the darker matters that had been plaguing Chicago.
Michael was elaborating on of one of Harry's adventures. Harry had merely explained that some necromancers had stirred some trouble a few years back. Harry wasn't the type to tell his own tales, he was humble like that. Or, perhaps, he was embarrassed about necromancing a priceless dinosaur fossil and riding it through the streets of Chicago.
"Seriously?" I asked, scarfing down the final bite of my third piece of Charity's glorious apple pie.
"He strapped a saddle to it and rode it right out of the museum." Michael supplied with a chuckle.
I looked over at Harry and his ears were bright red and he was rubbing his face to hide it like a child would. It was ridiculously cute and made me want to give him a reassuring hug. Something about the guy just made me want to mommy the hell out of him. Where Michael and Charity were like a brother and sister to me, I could see Harry as nothing more as a lost little boy needing to be held.
As the laughter died, that little boy dropped his arms and leaned in on the table, all kidding aside and looked me almost in the eye. "So, Raziel's Book of Secrets?"
I cleared my throat. "Yes, right, In order to get The Almighty's attention, I've sought out many a relic and I've destroyed a bounty of evil. Faced off with Lucifer's daughter and kissed the hand of God's Son. The book is my one best hope of finding the loophole I need."
"Loophole? You're trying to tell me that your all-knowing God leaves loopholes?" Harry raised a skeptical brow first at Michael and then at me. "A loophole that will break through the will of the Creator and … what? Get you a front row seat to the end of times? Don't you think Papa Bear is going to notice you breaking in to steal the porridge?"
"This isn't a child's tale, Mr. Dresden. This is reality." I said.
"Yeah, in reality, the bear just eats you alive." He countered.
Michael leaned onto the table. "Harry, I don't think it's so much a matter of loopholes as opportunity for free will. I believe that God is forgiving and loves Eve very much. It's just a matter of her using her free will to find the way home."
I had to smile at him. It wasn't all that long ago that Michael had been, pardon the term, hell bent on keeping me from reaching my goal. He had finally learned it wasn't all the letter of the law, but the intent of the law that sometimes mattered most. He almost learned it the hard way and it nearly got his ticket to Heaven punched long before mine. Michael saw my smile and laid his hand on mine.
Harry seemed to glower for a moment, and must have decided it wasn't the best time for theological debate and started earning is pay. "Alright, alright, so where do we start? Do you know where to find the book?"
I sighed, "No, its location has been lost for a few millennium."
"How do you even know that it hasn't been destroyed?"
"It's not some mortal book, written on fragile paper, Harry."
"True, in fact, I doubt it looks like a traditional book." He took out a notepad and pencil and started writing. "So Raziel gave the book to Adam, and then where did it end up?"
"A few angels thought it was a bad idea for mortals to have the knowledge in the book. They took it from us and threw it into the sea and then The Almighty gave it back to Adam." I explained. Michael gave Harry a small glance that, while very subtle, seemed to say I told you so.
I pretended not to notice and continued. "It was passed, family to family, to Enoch. Enoch started the tradition of adding his own experiences to the tome. The knowledge of God and experience of mortals blending together into one very powerful book."
Harry whistled appreciatively and kept taking notes.
"I know at one point that Raphael had possession of it."
"And when was that?" Harry asked.
"When Noah was commanded to build the Ark." I answered.
Harry's pencil led broke and he looked up at me. "Do you have something a little more recent?"
"The last place I personally saw it was in the hands of King Solomon, somewhere around 500BC." I shrugged my shoulders and gave him my best apologetic look.
"So it's probably buried in a desert somewhere in the middle east." Harry pushed himself back from the table with a grumble.
He took in a deep breath, I assume to preserve his patience with me, "and why would that be unlikely?"
"Because where ever the book has gone, power has gone with it; therefore, it would be logical for it to have been in Rome, China, England, Portugal." I looked into his dark eyes for a dangerous moment. "I'm quite sure it's in the US right now, but I don't know for how much longer."
He held up his hands in surrender. "Ok, you might have something there. I think I should probably consult a friend of mine and see what he can stir up about it."
"You mean that spirit of yours." Michael's tone was laced with disapproval.
"Yes, I mean that spirit of mine." Harry mocked Michael's tone of voice.
I stood up from the table. I didn't really feel like babysitting these two at the moment and I heard them continuing to bicker behind me as I took my plate to the kitchen and washed it off. I was drying it when Harry came up behind me.
"What are you doing?"
I snorted, "It's called 'doing dishes', it's a very foreign concept to most men, but I'm sure you've at least heard of it."
Harry feigned surprise. "Oh, is that what it looks like? I expected there to be more sweat and wailing involved."
"The more you know." I replied.
He leaned his back side against the counter and crossed his arms over his chest. "What I meant was, what is your next move?"
"You go talk to your spirit…thing. I'll get a good night sleep." I dried my hands off and put the rest of the pie in the refrigerator. "Meet back here in the morning, I'm sure sleeping in isn't an option here on a school night."
He relaxed a bit and I realized he had been concerned about whether I had a place to stay arranged for the night. "Thank you for your patience with me, Harry. I know this whole thing seems way over the top from your vantage point."
"No need to thank me, you'll have plenty of time to show patience with me later and we can call it even." When he smiled that smug, confident smile, he looked like his brother.
I hip checked him and he ran his hand though that mess of hair of his then headed to the front room. He grabbed up his coat and staff. "See you in the morning then, make sure the coffee is going, I may be up late."
"Good Lord forbid we see you when you're cranky. I don't think I could handle it." And with a wave, he was out the door.
Are bad dreams a bad omen? Let's hope not!
The idea was to get a good night sleep, but my dreams betrayed me. Not just the normal barrage of weird situations and old faces either.
I was dressed in Roman armor, holding a battered old sword. I was standing on the edge of a cliff and below me was fire and molten stone, rising, falling and churning. I could feel the heat on my skin and I stepped back. I heard a terrified scream behind me and turned to see a towering figure all in shadow with massive wings. At its feet lay the source of the sound.
A bound and naked Harry Dresden kneeled before the figure as a dark clawed foot seemed to crush him into the ground. I heard the harsh tones of a woman's laughter, it seemed familiar but twisted.
I rushed at the figure, my sword ready as I cried out in anger and in fear for Harry. It kicked Harry aside and faced me just in time for my battered blade to meet the dark shadow. There was a blinding flash of light and incredible pain and I was thrown backwards to the edge of the chasm.
I took one look down at the flame and heat and scrambled to my feet. The figure just sat there unmoving. I ran to Harry's side and cut his ropes. He looked up at me and said in a voice that seemed filled with gravel, "What are you waiting for? This is your chance."
I was puzzled for a moment, but when I looked up from where I was kneeling, I could see the gates that were just behind the large winged shadow. Heaven! It was so close! I was almost there!
Harry pushed at my arm. "Go!" he rasped.
I helped him to his feet. "I can't go. Not yet. Not without you."
As he kicked away ropes and finally stood at his full height, there was just enough time to see him smile at me before the shadow began to beat its large wings. It kicked dust up into our eyes and small rocks began to sting my skin. I stood between Harry and the shadow, trying to protect his bare, exposed body from the debris.
The shadow began to get larger and more misshapen. It spread out in the space between us and the gates. It became taller, curving towards us like a midnight wave. Harry reached around my waist and tossed his left arm over my shoulder. He held up his hand and threw up a shield of magic. The wave came crashing down upon us with the sound of deafening thunder…
I sat straight up in bed as the dream was shattered by the sound of someone beating on the front door. I jumped out of bed and pulled my cloak around me and grabbed up my sword. I rounded the hallway in time to have Michael fall into place behind me with an aluminum baseball bat.
I paused at the bottom of the stairs, sword at the ready as Michael hobbled down the last few stairs. "Who is it?" Michael's voice boomed.
"It's Harry, damn it!"
Michael made for the door and I grabbed his arm to stop him. I only had to look into his eyes to let him know my concern. To remind him that just because something sounds like Harry, or even looks like Harry, might not actually be Harry.
He nodded at me and continued to the door. I stood behind him, ready with my sword.
Michael opened the door and a rumpled Harry fell into the living room with an unceremonious FWUMP!
"It's Harry." I said.
Michael dropped the bat and picked up Harry like a rag doll and propped him up on the couch. I closed the door and sheathed my blade, then kneeled by Harry to try to assess the damage.
"What in the world…" Michael started.
"Definitely not this world." Harry corrected.
My hands moved over him as Michael looked over at me. "It looks like he's got a few small cuts on his hands and face." I said as Harry winced and hissed, his hands moved to his head to protect him from me prodding at it further. "And one heck of a goose egg."
Michael kneeled down next to Harry's arm and looked him straight in the eyes. "What did this to you?"
Harry leaned forward onto his knees and held his head in his hands like he was trying to keep it from splitting in two. "Nickelheads." He muttered.
I saw Charity out of the corner of my eye heading for the kitchen, she returned with a bag of frozen peas and handed it to me to apply it to Harry's bruised head.
"Nickelheads? What is a Nickelhead?" I asked as Harry took the bag from me and held it to the growing lump.
Michael tried to look serious as he explained, "It's Harry's term of endearment for the 'Order of the Blackened Denarius'."
I tried to choke down a laugh. I paused, looked at Harry as he sheepishly peeked up at me through his hands that were holding the bag to his head, then laughed loud and hard. "Nickelheads? I'm sure Anduriel just LOVES that one!"
I stopped laughing the moment I realized that Charity was standing behind me with her arms crossed over her chest and her foot tapping the floor. "I, uh, I mean, Denarians! Oh my! That's serious!" I cautioned a glance over my shoulder at Charity and offered a smile and she rolled her eyes at me and went back to the kitchen.
Damn that eyeroll thing.
I turned back to Harry and Michael and made an 'oopsie' face and shrugged my shoulders. Harry wasn't laughing either.
Harry continued, "It was Deirdre, and she was with someone else I didn't get to see really well. They ambushed me at a stop light."
"Right out in the open?" Asked Michael.
"Yeah, but I don't think killing me was on the menu." Harry looked up at me. "They were looking for you, Eve."
The Denarians are looking for Eve and the Blue Beetle takes one for the team.
I sat up and thought about that for a moment. What would the Denarians want with me? Especially Deidre, the Fallen Angel of Bad Hair Days. I hadn't run into any of them since they set fire to the Vatican over one hundred years ago in a successful attempt to destroy some very old manuscripts that were being restored. They had destroyed them and three rooms of the Vatican as well. They came extremely close to setting the priceless works of the library on fire in the process.
I realized both Harry and Michael were staring at me.
"Um, I have no idea why they'd be looking for me. It could very well be that Nicodemus is holding a one hundred year old grudge."
Harry smirked, "Yeah, he's thoughtful like that." Then he winced again and the little birdies flew around his head some more and he nearly fell forward off the couch.
Michael steadied him as he made him lean back. "Could it be that they know what you're looking for? That book in Nicodemus's hands would be… apocalyptic."
I shook my head. "I don't think so. A meager few know exactly what I'm looking for. You two, maybe one or two others. Very few even knew I was looking for you, Harry. Thankfully, you leave quite the calling card of burned buildings and an ad in the Yellow Pages." I didn't mention that ultimately it was his half-brother, Thomas, which pointed me toward those Yellow Pages.
"Not every building fire is my fault." Harry said, defensively. "It's been at least six months since I burned one down."
"One day at a time." I offered with a smirk.
"Hi, I'm Harry Dresden…" I mocked Harry's baritone voice and then gave a lilting, "Hi, Harry!" I was rewarded for my amazing impersonation skills with a bag of frozen peas tossed at my face. I caught them before they hit me and smiled up at Harry. He let out a sigh and smiled back.
"What did the other Denarian look like?" Michael got us back to business.
"Not sure. Deirdre took the door off the Blue Beetle and decided to see if I could fly without a broomstick."
I looked at him expectantly. He answered the look with a defensive, "No," and pointed to the growing lump on his head, "and I can't fly with one either."
I put up my hands in silent apology and Harry grabbed the peas and put them back on his head so that they covered most of his eyes too.
"She had a sickly dark feel to her. She stayed to the shadows and barked out orders in a voice that gave me goose bumps on my goose bumps." He shuddered a little in remembrance.
"She looked a lot like Lara Raith of the White Court. Long dark hair and even the shadows didn't hide the curves. She had legs, looong legs." Harry made movements with his hands to try to get his curvy point across.
Michael looked a tad uncomfortable as he looked over at me. I pulled my cloak around me a bit more, wondering what Harry said about me when I wasn't in the room and mildly hoped it was just as complimentary.
"She didn't sound like Lara though and she was definitely working with Deirdre, which doesn't seem Lara's style. … Did I mention the curves?" And again he made with the hand movements.
Michael fidgeted and looked out of the front window, "Where's your car?"
"In a tree."
"In a tree." Michael echoed.
"In a tree." Harry confirmed.
Michael made a noncommittal noise that made it sound like he really wasn't all that surprised.
I stood up and headed for the stairs. Michael watched me go but just sat back in his chair. I came back down a few minutes later dressed in my "Eve Was Framed" t-shirt and some jeans. My sword on my hip and my cloak in my arms as I strapped my gauntlet to my left arm.
Harry peeked out from under the peas. "You going somewhere" he asked.
"We are." I answered.
He stood up on shaky bean pole legs. "I was afraid you were going to say that." He grabbed up his staff off the floor and stumbled slightly, but righted himself on his own.
I set the cloak over my shoulders and Michael tossed me the keys to his truck.
I was out of the door and in the truck already when Harry reluctantly hauled himself into the passenger side and I turned the key. I looked over at him and he was still holding the peas to his head. "Can you show me where you were attacked?"
Without moving the peas, he pointed to his head.
I put the truck in reverse and we sped out of the driveway. "Just, take me to your car."
When we got to the site, the police were already there with a crane. Harry had given up on the now thawed out vegetables and tossed them on the dashboard.
"Well, there it is." He pointed to a spot about thirty feet up where the little Volkswagen with only one door was pinned between two large trees. It looked like a bug caught in a spider web. Peter Parker would have been proud.
I stepped out of the truck and went to stand with the small crowd that had formed, despite the hour, to watch the events. Harry silently came up behind me. For a big guy, he could really be stealthy. If he didn't smell like leather, old spice and burnt wood, I wouldn't have known he was there.
He walked to our left, away from the trees and turned to look at his car again. "This is where I was. The next thing I knew, I was hugging that large rock with my face and my car was up there."
I closed my eyes for a moment. I could definitely feel the twinge of the Denarian. It felt like when you put a 9 volt battery on your tongue. Metallic and wrong. "You sure there were two? I am really only feeling Deirdre's presence."
"At one point, I thought there were twenty of them, all in matching outfits and doing the can-can, but that was after I was seeing stars."
Harry and I casually looked around a bit more, not really worried about attracting the attention of the police. They clearly had their hands full with the Beetle. We returned to the truck empty handed and I started it up.
"I guess just go back to Michael's and I'll call a cab. I've got some friends at CPD that can help me explain the car thing later." Harry said.
"No, we've got work to do and I can't allow you to come to harm." Because I promised your brother I'd protect you. "I'm going with you. Which way to your place?"
Hey! Maybe Bob can help! ... or... not.
"Bob, rise and shine sleepy head." I heard Harry say as he got to the bottom of the ladder stairs.
I stepped down after him into the cold basement below his cold apartment.
I looked around the room and could not figure out who or what he could have been talking to. Nothing but long tables along the side and down the middle of the room and shelves stuffed with ingredients and books.
"Hey!" Harry picked up a pencil and tossed it at some books on a shelf that had a human skull sitting on it. "I said wakey wakey!"
The eyes of the skull began to glow a warm orange color. It dawned on me too late to really do anything more than to throw up my gauntlet in front of me and cover as much of myself as I could with my cloak. "SWEET MOSES, DRESDEN!"
The skulls eyes turned a shade of vomit green and the whole of it began to cast the same sickly light. I cried out as I felt a wave of power touch my mind and I panicked.
Harry stepped in between me and the spirit and put a hand in each of our directions. "Whoa! Hey! What's going on here?"
"Dresden, that… that… THING is a vessel of evil! What the hell is it doing here?"
"That's just Bob. He's a spirit of intellect, he's like a," he flailed his long arms a bit, " wizard's computer."
"It could kill you easily, Dresden. It's dangerous. Knowledge is power and that is a very powerful, terrible thing." I started scooting back up the ladder, trying to keep myself covered. "The last time I ran across it, it used me like a battery to keep its master's soul alive after World War I, using my soul to fuel Heinrich's."
"Bob, whatever you're doing, I command you to stop!" At Harry's words, the skulls eyes turned back to a warm orange and I felt it free up my mind again. I felt my whole body relax as the presence left my mind. I took the last few steps down into the basement and kept my left arm up in case I needed to shield myself.
I turned to look at Harry, but he was blurry for some reason. Et tu, eyes? "Harry, I was tortured for years by that thing. Do you have any idea what it can do?"
Harry's hand moved from the back of his neck to the front, cleared his throat and nodded, "Yeah. I got a feeling I do."
I hugged myself and shuddered. I felt a tear roll down my face and turned aside so Harry wouldn't see it.
"I should have said something, warned you. Hell, I don't know, man." He glared in the direction of the skull. "Bob is bound by whoever possesses him. In Kemmler's hands he was a monster. In my hands he's a lazy pain in the ass ". He reached his hand out to me and then let it drop to his side.
He was right. I knew he was right, and then I felt bad for making Harry feel bad. Good grief I am such a sap. "I didn't mean to upset you, Harry. I was just startled and frightened." I stepped up and placed a hand on his face. "I should have figured you could tame something that dangerous." I said, but what I didn't say was because you, yourself are that dangerous.
He smiled. "I don't know about tame, but he's safe."
I felt a bit foolish, but the deep wounds heal the slowest. "So, shall we try this again?" I straightened my cloak out. "This time with a little less school girl screaming?"
He smiled at me and pulled out a chair that was tucked under a small tidy desk that looked too clean to belong in the basement with the rest of the organized clutter, and offered it to me. I sat down and Harry pulled the skull off the shelf and set it on the table in the middle of the room.
"Bob?" Harry said tentatively. I noticed that he was standing where he could easily step between me and the spirit. "Bob, come out and play nice this time."
The eyes began to glow warm orange again and I felt my body tense up on reflex. "I'm sorry Harry," the smooth, slightly hollow sounding voice came from the skull, "I didn't intend to frighten your guest."
I cleared my throat again. "I'm not sure you …"
"Remember you?" The skull interrupted as it pivoted in place to 'look' at me. "I could never forget one as lovely as Eve."
"Yes, well, we didn't know each other on the best of terms." There was a hint of anger in my voice that I just couldn't hide.
"Yes, my apologies. I was under certain, ah… restrictions at the time. It would not have been my true nature to have handled things in such a way. My master was very strong even in death." The skull sighed. Which is just weird.
Harry relaxed his shoulders a bit and made with the introductions. "Eve, this is Bob. He works for me. Bob, this is Eve. I work for her. Everyone cool now? I don't want to have to scrape either of you off the walls down here."
'Bob' was a spirit of intellect that had been trapped in that human skull in medieval France. Harry was right, it was bound to the skull and the owner of the skull was its master. Naming it Bob had to be Harry's brilliant doing. I thought the spirit had been destroyed ages ago.
Bob and I both agreed to keep things civil and I jumped into the subject at hand. "I'm looking for Sefer Raziel HaMalach, the Book of Secrets."
"Written by the Archangel, Raziel and given to Adam when he was banned from the Garden of Eden. Eventually passed on to Noah so that he would have the knowledge to build the Ark." Bob continued for us.
"Yes, the last place I knew it to be was in the hands of King Solomon." I offered.
"Right, and from that point it has been passed on as a magical grimoire from wizard to wizard. The White Council would probably deem it too great a power for one person to own and demand it be destroyed." Bob continued.
"Much like you, Spirit." I jabbed. Harry just rubbed his face. I'm not a saint, just immortal.
If it bothered the spirit, it didn't show it. "Yes, very much like me. Thus, Harry is a tad overprotective of me."
"So you have no idea where to start looking for it?" Harry asked.
"For all we know, Harry, it could be collecting dust in some nerdy wizard's sub-basement, just like me." Harry glared at the skull and I had to hide a grin by pretending I had something mysteriously in my eye. One thing is for sure, this was definitely not the personality that held the sk… er… BOB… in the past.
"So… a dead end." I muttered.
"I'm sorry I was unable to help." Bob offered. He still seemed to watch us with eyes that weren't there. Creepy.
"I don't think we're asking the right questions." Harry finally said.
"How do you figure?" I asked.
"So, Bob doesn't know where it is but maybe he can figure out who to ask that does?"
"There are rumors that others have added to the book. Notes and observations over the millennia. Perhaps the Archive could be of some help." Bob said matter of factly.
I smacked myself in the forehead. "The Archive! Bob, you're brilliant!"
"I am?" Bob said at the same time as Harry said "He is?"
I picked up the skull and kissed it between the eyes. Bob chortled in delight as I set him back on the table. "Harry, in the morning, can I use your phone?"
A call to The Archive and Harry learns something new about his odd guest.
When light began to creep its way into the basement apartment I opened my eyes to find Harry's extremely large dog, Mouse, staring at me. The irony of the name was not lost on me. I sat up off the couch where I had fallen asleep just a few hours before, shoving maps and notes that Harry and I had accumulated through the night's work. Mouse wagged his tail and hopped up onto the spot of couch I had just vacated. I got a few big drooly kisses and then he climbed onto my lap like he was some tiny lap dog.
After a bit of adjusting, I could breathe again. I swear he must feed the beast Dragonkin to get him this big. I scratched behind his ears and then heard something horrible and truly evil to my right.
I jerked my head to look over and find Harry asleep in one of his recliners, head tipped back, drool coming out of the corner of his mouth and snoring like a rusty chainsaw.
The sound nearly rattled the windows.
It was becoming less of a mystery why he lived alone in a basement.
"Harry." I tried to get his attention. "Harry!" Still nothing. "HARRY!" Yet another barrage of snores.
Mouse didn't seem keen on letting me get up off the couch, so I grabbed one of the beat up throw pillows next to me and tossed it at Harry's head.
With one final snort he was up and on his feet, ready to take on whatever had attacked him.
"Well good morning, sunshine. Have a good nap?" I said, overly perky and cheerful.
He looked at me for a stunned second, remembered where he was and rubbed his face as he muttered, "Wizard needs caffeine, badly."
Harry grabbed a Coke out of his ice box and wordlessly offered me one as well. I put up my hand and he tossed it underhand to me. I caught it and tapped on the top of the can a few times, I didn't want it to fizz over onto Mouse. By the time mine was open, Harry's was empty and he had opened a second one.
He picked up the phone and made a call to someone named "Murph" and explained about his car. There was a long pause where he didn't talk, really didn't listen and just drank his soda. Then he said "Love you too, Murph. I'll keep you updated" and hung up.
I raised an eyebrow at him. "You love everyone at CPD or just him?"
Harry called Mouse off my lap and I was slowly able to feel my toes again. Mouse still stayed at my side for more ear skritches. "He's a she." He said. "I mean, Murph is a she."
"Cue the love interest."
"It's not like that. We're old friends. It would just be weird."
"Is she attractive?"
He smiled a little and closed his eyes; you could tell he was visualizing her. "Yeah. She's cute."
"Is she smart?"
"One of the smartest people I know."
"Do you tell her everything?"
"Ah, cue the angsty sexual tension love interest."
Harry opened his eyes and glowered at me. "If I didn't know better, I'd think Thomas had sent you."
I made my most innocent of faces. I did know his brother, Thomas, but how I knew him wasn't really a topic that I could share. So best to leave it all unsaid.
Harry shook his head and passed me the phone. "Your turn, who are you calling?"
I ignored him, picked up the handset and dialed the number, Harry moved over to the couch to listen in. A familiar voice picked up the phone.
"Kincaid." He answered sternly.
"Jared, I need a favor."
"Eve? Every time you need a favor, I need traction. "
Harry was leaning in, trying to listen in on the call and being quite obvious about it. "You know Kincaid?" He mouthed at me. I nodded yes.
"Well, you would be breaking some pretty big rules from The Big Guy if you help me on this." I dropped that juicy tidbit for him.
"In that case, what is it you need?" I could hear the smug smile on his face.
Harry stopped mouthing things when I wasn't answering him and started whispering loudly, "How well do you know him? Have you met Ivy? Why do I have a very bad feeling about this?"
"Is that Dresden? You're in Chicago? Hanging out with White Council now?"
Great, I was getting it from both sides.
I hushed Harry and turned my back to him as I continued my conversation. "I need to know who wrote in Raziel's Book of Secrets last and when."
"Oh, you weren't kidding, you are really pushing the rules this time." He paused a moment and then continued. "Is your cloak fire resistant? You should ward it. Harry and fire go hand and hand."
"This time?" Harry came around the other side of me. "What happened last time? Why did he need traction? How in the hell do you know Kincaid?" I put my hand firmly over his mouth and looked at him sternly. Good grief, men will be the death of me.
I ignored Kincaid's questions and pushed forward. "Focus, Jared. Do you think she could help me?" It was really all in The Archive's court.
There were some muffled sounds like Jared had put his hand over the mouth piece of the phone and a moment later he came back to me. "She says we should meet somewhere to discuss it… the usual at noon?"
"You're in Chicago too? The usual sounds perfect!"
"Tell Dresden to come, she only agreed to meet so quickly because she wants to see him." Jared grumbled a bit.
I still had my hand over Harry's mouth but raised an eyebrow at him. "Oh, yes… of course. See you then, love."
Jared hung up the phone and I hung up my end. I slowly removed my hand from Harry's mouth.
"LOVE?" He blurted out. "You just called The Hellhound LOVE?"
"Well yes, Harry. He's my son."
Ok, ok, so this is was a short one, mostly for my own benefit of embarrassing Harry. More serious stuff to come!
After I peeled Harry off the ceiling we headed back down into the basement to gather our things as I tried to explain to him that I had many scion children. I've lived for thousands of years with the programming to go forth and multiply. The rules were pretty relaxed about with whom. The subject was enough to wake Bob up as we entered the basement.
"So you still have children?" Harry asked, incredulously. "I mean, like, give birth?"
"Yes, I no longer raise them though. Getting attached to them only brings pain when they grow old and die. Which is why breeding with a demon or god is somewhat soothing. The child will be around for centuries, like Jared."
"Breeding, you talk like your some sort of wild animal instead of a human." He grunted his disapproval.
"Harry, you ARE animals. Just a few more IQ points is all." Bob piped up, "so much instinct is preprogrammed into you it's a miracle that you aren't all still killing each other with rocks."
Ah, the memories.
"Hell's bells, she doesn't have to sound like it, man. Say 'procreate' or something." He was agitated at the whole conversation. He couldn't possibly be that prude, could he?
"If that makes you feel better, then so it shall be." I offered.
"Eve, on this note, could you, perhaps, tell me if it was you that invented oral sex." Bob asked eagerly.
"Bob! " Harry was on his feet and looking quite upset at the skull.
I stifled a laugh, I couldn't help myself but to stir the pot now. "Yes, I did. I felt there had to be more to sex than just babies."
"Eve!" Harry looked at me, horrified.
"So did you invent the, um," Bob searched for the proper term, "'titty fuck' as well?" Bob chirped quickly before Harry could stop him.
"Well of course, Lilith certainly wasn't interested in anything that she didn't benefit from."
Harry had sat down with his hands over his ears, looking like the 'Hear No Evil' monkey. He was humming to himself.
Bob continued, "Ah, yes that makes sense. Does the carpet match the drapes?"
"That's enough!" Before Bob could say another word, Harry picked him up, opened a steamer trunk that was under the table and dropped him, unceremoniously, into it and shut it. He then proceeded to set several large books on top of it. He leaned against the table in front of the trunk with his arms crossed over his chest defiantly, I suspect to protect me from it.
"Your spirit of intellect seems to be quite obsessed with sexual situations." I noted the obvious with a giggle.
"Yeah, and he never shuts up about it." Harry was flustered and blushing. It was downright adorable.
I forced my face and voice to be very serious. "You were right about how he takes on a different personality for each person who possesses him. What do you think that this says about you, Dresden?"
Harry glared at me.
A muffled voice from the trunk said "He's sexually repressed and should have been a priest instead of a wizard." Harry kicked the trunk, hard.
Harry hadn't had a kind life. Maggie's death had made sure of that. He was so much like his mother. Strong willed, tempted by the darkness, and very powerful. It would take one helluva woman to be able to tame him and stand strong at his side. I had a feeling he did his best to not look for her. Regardless of all this, there was really no way to keep from laughing.
I decided it was best to let him off the hook. "Ok, ok, enough laughter at your expense for now, Harry. Get what you need together and let's head out. We can run a few errands before we meet with Jared and I don't want to be late." I grabbed up my cloak from the table and headed back upstairs.
"Where are we going?"
"Damn it, I knew Kincaid was evil." He followed me up.
Harry and Eve meet with Ivy and Kincaid at the Rock and Roll McDonalds. Hopefully, Ivy will have the information Eve needs and Harry won't choke on his french fries.
Harry had to stop by CPD impound to sign papers to have his VW Bug released to his mechanic. Apparently, this guy was a miracle worker of Montgomery Scott proportions. That was good because the little car was going to need it.
Then we dropped by the Carpenter's to pick up Molly. She had magical theory to work on back at Harry's place and this did not please her at all. Molly had always been warm and friendly to me. She always had a smile and a joke. Until today.
Today, she was so cold it was like the temperature dropped 20 degrees within a foot of her. It wasn't until we were ready to get back in the truck and she shoved Harry aside to make sure she was sitting between us that I figured out why.
I looked at Harry and he was absolutely oblivious to the fact that Molly had a very obvious thing for him. It was clear as day and he didn't see it. No, I take that back. I'm sure he was aware of it on some level, but he was willfully refusing to see it.
"I don't understand why I can't go with you." Molly protested.
"Grasshopper, if you spent every moment with me while I was working, you'd only learn how to watch me get my ass kicked." Harry offered her a smile. "Besides, we're just going to McDonald's."
She crossed her arms like a petulant child and pouted the whole way to Harry's place. I bet that routine would actually work on Michael. Michael was a big softie.
When we arrived, she didn't wait for Harry to open the door to get out. She reached across him really slowly and unlocked it, then sidled over his lap with a few extra wiggles and hopped out. She turned to bounce a few extra times in her tight shirt to say her goodbyes to us, and then trotted down to Harry's front door.
Harry shut the door of the truck and didn't even give a small glance in the direction of all the bouncing as I rubbed at my face.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Harry, let me guess. 'It's not like that. We're friends. It would just be weird.'" I practically quoted the words he had used for Murphy.
He blinked at me a few times, and then shivered a little as it dawned on him. "You mean Molly?"
"You're now going to tell me that what she did just now was completely innocent." I couldn't keep the incredulity out of my voice.
"What happened? She just got out of the truck." He said defensively.
"You know, even Christ was tempted, Harry." I put the truck into gear and pulled back out onto the road. "Perhaps you should invest in solar panels for some hot water, because your cold shower is seriously more effective than one should ever be."
I didn't look at him, but I could feel the glare he was giving me.
Then, I kid you not; he crossed his arms over his chest like a petulant child, and pouted all the way to McDonald's.
He relaxed as we drove up. The building was huge for a McDonald's. There were two large golden arches that you gave the impression that they were holding the entire building up. As I pulled in behind it to find parking, Harry looked up at the building.
"Two stories. Why would they need a McDonald's to be two stories tall?" He pondered out loud.
I pointed to the window, "To make room for the '59 Corvette of course."
"Oh, right." Harry said, as if that seemed to answer everything.
We parked and I considered leaving my cloak and sword in the truck. Harry hopped out in his mantled black duster with his wizard staff in hand and slammed the door. Well, when in Chicago… I thought, and kept the cloak on my shoulders and strapped my sword belt on.
Harry opened the door to the building for me with a flourish of a bow and I curtsied and walked past him with a flip of my cloak and smiled contently to myself that at least one man on the planet still remembered the old ways of chivalry. I made my way to the order counter and stood in line.
Harry stood beside me but facing the opposite way. He looked oddly at me as I ordered a Quarter Pounder (with cheese, no onions!) a Filet-o-Fish sandwich and a McNugget Happy Meal (with apple slices, milk and Barbeque Sauce). He then went back to looking all around the place. I wasn't sure if he was dazzled by all the neon and glitz or if he was watching our backs.
"You want anything Harry?" I asked.
He thought about it for a moment. "Just add another Quarter Pounder for me."
I did and then we waited for our order. Once I had the tray, we headed for a section with couches for seats and a low coffee table between them.
"They just don't make fast food places like they use to. " Harry wisely observed as he sat down opposite of me on a faux leather couch.
I set the food out on the table and tossed the burger to him. He opened it and savaged it. No doubt to display that he was the top of the food chain. I opened my Filet-o-Fish and tried to be a tad less primal, but I was starving as well.
I saw Kincaid long before he thought I saw him. They came around behind Harry and Kincaid paused to look around for trouble first before he stepped forward with The Archive in his shadow. I saw Harry stiffen the moment they stepped forward and had to grin a little.
Harry, to his credit, didn't jump up or jerk his head to look over his shoulder. He just stopped still, like a gazelle on the Serengeti. He was Listening. He knew exactly who was there and where he was. Kincaid still stalked forward, ever the lion on the hunt.
I let them play their little testosterone game and took another bite of my fish sandwich. I guess The Archive wasn't as patient as I was, because she bolted forward as soon as she could see Harry from around Kincaid and slid herself into place next to him on the couch.
All the stillness seeped out of Harry's body and he visibly relaxed. "Hey there, Ivy!" He said with a genuine smile, still not bothering to acknowledge that Kincaid was even in the room, let alone looming behind him.
"Hello Harry." She simply sat there and smiled up at him, her feet bouncing a bit. She was dressed in a purple dress with her short blond hair decorated in a matching headband that really held none of her cropped hair back but still looked cute. As fresh faced and adorable as ever, but starting to resemble a young woman instead of a child.
"Ivy, is it?" I said through an honest smile of my own. Kincaid's eyes did one more sweep of the room and out the window and he slid down next to me.
"Hello Eve", she said cheerfully as she eyed the food in front of us, "Yes, Harry named me. I like it."
Harry took a big bite of his burger as I reached down and picked up the other burger and the happy meal. I handed Ivy the burger and Kincaid his happy meal.
Kincaid began to open the little box and asked, "Did you remember the barbeque sauce this time?"
Harry suddenly began to cough and choke.
Ivy patted his back a few times firmly. "Harry, you should take smaller bites. It's less dangerous."
Kincaid pulled the toy out of the box and started to unwrap it. I snagged it out of his hands. "AFTER you finish the apples," I said sternly.
Harry fell over sideways on the little couch. He was still coughing but was now bright red as well. His fist beating upon the edge of the couch occasionally.
I was about to get concerned for his wellbeing, when he sat up again, set his burger on the table and began to wipe his eyes with his good hand and shook with laughter he was desperately trying to contain.
Kincaid didn't seem to notice at all as he opened the sauce for his McNuggets and dipped them delicately. He hated it when he got sauce on his fingers.
Once I was certain that Harry was done with his choking giggle fit, I sat back and watched Ivy carefully nibble away at her food. "Ivy, would it be possible for you to tell me who last wrote in 'Sefer Raziel HaMalach'?"
She stopped chewing for a moment. Chewed really fast for a moment more, then swallowed her bite. "Perhaps. What is the reason for you needing this information?" Her sweet voice far more mature than it should be for her age.
"You know that I can't go Home. I'm not allowed to die and go to Heaven. I think that if I find the book, I can find a way to work around that. I can find a way to get into Heaven and be done with this existence." I tried not to bite my lip as I laid it all out before her.
Her blond head nodded once. "Yes, Raziel's book would provide you with that information."
My old heart skipped a beat; I had to work hard to keep my face calm. "That is the reason I am looking for the book. I just want to go Home. I'm hoping that knowing when or where it was written in last, possibly who wrote in it might help me find it."
I could see Kincaid looking at me from the corner of my eye, but I kept my gaze on Ivy. Behind the eyes of that young girl lay all the knowledge and wisdom of humanity. Everything that was in Raziel's book, was sitting right before me. Her knowledge started when Adam took his first breath. I had been on this planet almost as long, but only had the knowledge and wisdom I alone had acquired.
She tilted her head slightly to the side, "Eve, why did you not just ask me for the information directly?"
I pondered this a moment as I reached over and fetched an apple slice out of Kincaid's happy meal and nibbled at it. "Well, because you couldn't tell me that. It would be wrong of me to use you in that fashion. I only ask to be pointed in the right direction. I don't ask that you hand the knowledge of the book to me. I have to earn it myself."
I nibbled up the rest of the apple slice and reached for another one. Kincaid pulled his lunch out of my reach and scowled at me. Harry, on the other hand, was looking at me with a big smile. I arched a brow at him.
Ivy nodded. "You are correct, I cannot tell you where the book is or who wrote in it last."
My heart dropped into my gut, but I kept my face still. "I understand, it was worth a-"
A smile showed in her eye as she continued, talking over me, "I can, however, tell you that a person you seek was written a parking ticket on North Cleveland Avenue, by the corner at West Eugene Street in Old Town. Though, I caution you that you may have to dig a little deeper than that to find them." She stuffed the final bit of her burger into her mouth and chewed thoroughly.
I blinked and stared at Ivy. Harry blinked and stared at Ivy. Then Harry and I blinked and stared at each other.
"Oh." I finally managed to wittily reply.
Jared took that moment to snag back his Happy Meal toy from me. I let him. He earned it.
A tip from The Archive sends Harry and Eve to St. Michael's Church. That just seems a bit too easy.
Harry and I arrived at the corner of West Eugenie street and North Cleveland Avenue. I looked up at the Romanesque inspired red brick building before me, checking the time on the clock tower that loomed higher than the rest of the spires.
"St. Michael's Church, " Harry said with a tone of hope in his voice, "maybe it's just sitting on some bookshelf in the basement."
I gave him a look over my shoulder.
He sighed, "Right, it's never that easy." He shook his left arm and I noticed the bracelet he wore on that wrist slid down out of the arm of his black duster as he walked past me towards the doors of the old church.
I followed a few steps behind him, checking the straps of the gauntlet I wore on my left arm. It had been a gift from Sir Galahad when our individual quests to find the Holy Grail had become one. The gauntlet's powers were defensive and healing. I was an immortal, but I still healed at the rate of your standard White Council wizard. Fast, but not fast enough in most dangerous situations.
As we walked up the three steps that lead to the three doors of the church, Harry opened the huge hinged door and again waved me in first with a bit of a flourish. I smiled at Harry. Galahad would have liked him.
I turned to bow back at Harry, and spotted a statue of the Archangel Michael that faced the front of the church from where we were standing. He stood tall and confident in his armor and drapes; a sword in his right hand and his left foot planted on the back of his fallen foes head. I then turned to bow to the statue.
"Assist us in our battles against evils of this day." I said.
Harry arched a brow and looked at the statue. "Yeah, what she said."
I rolled my eyes at Harry and stepped past him into the foyer of the church. Harry followed and the large door closed with a thump that echoed through the entire sanctuary.
I winced at the sound and eyed him. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Not so subtle." It was mildly apologetic and when he added his crooked smile, it was impossible not to just let it go.
"Well, I guess we start with trying to find the basement." I nodded to myself, to assure myself that was the right thing to do.
"You take the left side." He said as he started stalking through the building to the right.
We moved quietly forward towards the main alter. There were a few people scattered in seats here and there, their heads down in prayer. I pulled the cowl of my cloak up over my head as I got to the first alter on the left side. Harry was making his way to the middle now, and I met him directly in front of the Altar of the Angels. There were two doors on each side of the altar and we looked up at it.
The top of the huge altar had three angels on it. The center beheld the likeness of Michael; to each side of him were Gabriel and Raphael. I smiled a little.
Harry noticed my smile, despite my hood. "What is it?"
"The Watchman isn't here." I winked at him.
Harry sighed. "One day, you'll have to tell me what you did to piss him off."
"No, I don't." I replied as I stepped forward towards the altar and to the left side doors.
We walked back through a hallway. The place was disturbingly empty and every footstep seemed to echo forever. We found a stairway down and followed it. As we walked deeper into the bowls of the church we passed meeting rooms, priest's quarters, a kitchen. We turned a corner and we were greeted by a stone alcove.
It was a large archway, like the other doors had been, but it was filled with stone blocks. As if someone had sealed up a door from this side of it.
Harry and I quirked a brow at each other and then he reached forward with his hand and shut his eyes, letting his hand move about an inch above the stones. Finally he stepped back.
"I think this is the place." He said somberly.
"Are there wards?" I asked.
"No, I don't think so." He answered with a knowing smile.
"So, how do you know this is the place and not just a dead end?"
Harry pointed to the floor, where you could clearly see that the dust had been disturbed in a fan shape, as if someone had opened a door into the hallway. "Because I'm not just a wizard." He said.
"Jinkies!" I said in an overly perky voice, "and they would have gotten away with it to, if it wasn't for us meddling kids!"
I got a nod of appreciation from Harry and we began to look for a lever that would open the door.
At one point, Harry pulled out his blasting rod, counted three up and two across and tapped the stone three times with the rod. Nothing happened and he shrugged.
"What was that?" I asked.
"Read it in a book once." He said.
I smirked, "Why not just speak, friend, and enter?"
Harry looked at the door and said, "Mellon."
Again nothing happened.
He cleared his throat, "Seemed worth a try."
He stepped away from the door and around the corner. "Maybe we are looking too closely at the door itself."
I peeked around the wall at him as he looked high and low. He paused as he spotted something above the next doorway down. He reached above the frame of the door and ran his fingers delicately along it. I heard something click and the bricked up door behind me slammed me hard on the backside as it swung open.
I may have made a noise that some might call a 'bark' or even a 'yarp'. I may also have felt my face turn bright red and turned my back to Harry, pretending I was looking over the door. "That was it." I very professionally confirmed.
He was kind enough to pretend he hadn't heard me and he looked past me into the darkness that our secret door had exposed. It was a rough masonry tunnel, with stairs leading down into the dark.
"Dig a little deeper, she wasn't kidding." I muttered.
Harry took off the pendant that he wore around his neck. It was a silver pentacle on a silver chain. He wrapped it around the fingers of his right hand, muttered a word and blue white wizard light began to come from it. He held it out into the doorway, but it only showed us a few more yards down, and the stairs just kept going.
I realized I was holding my breath and let it out with a whistle. Something, I have no idea what, whistled back from far in the dark.
After no other sounds came up from the depths, I turned to Harry. "Echo?"
He grumbled, "No…Undertown."
What exactly is waiting for Eve and Harry in the dark of Undertown?
We began the descent down into the darkness and the door slammed shut behind us as quickly as it had sprung open earlier.
"Damn it!" Harry cussed and looked over the backside of the wall. When he couldn't find a release for the door, he shoved his weight against it a few times. It didn't budge at all. In the darkness, it sounded like something was laughing at us…or maybe that was just my imagination? I really was hoping it was the latter.
Harry trudged past me on the narrow staircase, glowering.
"… that's bad, huh?" I asked.
He held up his amulet and it glowed brightly, but the stairwell was only a hair taller than Harry was and I was left mostly in shadow behind him.
The air got colder as we went deeper and deeper into the darkness. The stairs became less even and the walls were no longer brick lined and were just carved bedrock. I tried to look behind me to see how far we had descended, but I could no longer see the top of the stairs.
As I was looking back, the stairs ended and became a hallway, but I wasn't looking the right direction, I stumbled and Harry's hand came out to steady me. He turned to the side so I could see past him and held his pentacle necklace high.
The hallway before us ended and it let out into a huge room. Or cave. Is it a cave if the walls are finished? I made a mental note to ask Lara about that later.
Anyway, it was huge. The walls were polished dark stone and Harry's wizard light didn't spread far enough to illuminate the ceiling or far wall. Just at the edge of the light, I could see what looked like it might be an altar or table, with something faintly glowing resting on top of it.
We stood there for a moment, taking in the room before I turned to Harry and said, "Trap?"
He closed his eyes for a moment and opened them again slowly. He looked around the room. "Trap." He confirmed.
I stepped up to the edge of the doorway and could feel the energy of the magical booby traps that lay in the distance, probably around that altar. There was also that faint metallic twinge like we felt at the site of Harry's car stuck in the tree.
I whispered. "Denarians have definitely been here, but this doesn't feel like their magic".
Harry got a visible chill. "It's the other one." He moved his hands in the curving motion he had used earlier to describe the woman helping Deirdre.
As if on cue, we heard the lilt of a woman's laughter and someone walked between us and the altar. We froze in place as the figure moved closer to us. Harry shook out his shield bracelet and I readied my gauntlet and drew my sword.
Just as she stepped into the range of Harry's lit amulet, I heard her familiar voice say, "Now Eve, is that anyway to treat an old friend?"
She was shorter than me, long dark wavy locks of hair framed a heart shaped face. She wasn't wearing much and what she was wearing was see through. She was draped with orange material that just seemed to accentuate her curves and made her tanned skin stand out. Her warm amber colored eyes looked me up and down and then moved to Harry. I instinctively stepped in front of him as she kept coming closer to us. Each step forward put a bounce in her ample breasts and a sway to her full hips.
"Hello, Lilith." I said, trying to keep a snarl out of my voice.
"It's so good to see you again, sister." She offered in false politeness. She held her hands out to me and I stepped back, shoving Harry as I went.
"Stay right there!" I snapped. "Why are you here? What is it you want?"
She stopped about ten feet in front of our shelter in the hallway. "Eve, I could ask you the same thing." Her voice was dripping with the lust and lure that was Lilith. Where I had been created to support my mate and provide him with children, Lilith had been made to dominate him and control him. She was Adam's ex-wife from hell.
"You knew I was I was in town, you went hunting me the other night, remember?"
Her eyes moved to Harry, she purred in her throat before she spoke, "Yes, that's right. Exactly who is your tasty little friend, Eve?" She purred. "Is he another one of your throw away affairs?"
"Leave him out of this." I demanded. "He's just a tag-a-long."
Her eyes were solidly on Harry, he hadn't moved or said a word since Lilith stepped forward. That was a bad sign. She could get into people's heads, she could make you…do things.
I dared a glance over my shoulder at Harry. His body stiff and the hand that held his wizard's staff was white knuckled. There was definitely some sort of struggle going on behind his eyes.
"A tag-a-long? I find that hard to believe, Eve, you always did like the tall, dark and handsome sort." She pulled her mouth back into a smile. I swear she had come up with a spell that made perfect lip gloss to cover those full lips of hers.
"We can leave Samael out of this too!" I turned and spat at her. I hated how easily that old jab started a fire under me. You have one affair that gets you kicked out of Paradise and no one lets you live it down.
Lilith ignored me, still looking at Harry, she put power in her words and said, "Tell me, sweet mageling, what is your Name?"
I felt Harry's body against my back as he tried to step forward. He started to speak, drunkenly, "Harry Blackst—" I elbowed him as hard as I could in what would have probably been the gut in a much shorter man. I winched at the high pitched sound he made as he doubled over. Oops.
Lilith got what she needed anyway. "Harry Dresden? THE Harry Dresden? Son of Margaret LeFay?" She giggled in delight. "Oh Eve, you always have the best playthings!"
I stepped forward into the room and to the right of the door. I had to get Lilith's attention and keep it off of Harry.
"Oh yes, I do. I almost feel bad that you end up with so many of my cast offs. It has just got to be a blow to your inflated ego." I smiled as her eyes followed me and her face turned pink.
I could see Harry in my peripheral vision and he was starting to shake off Lilith's influence. I kept talking.
"So, Lilith, I have to know, after all these years, how did it feel to have Adam reject you? To have him choose your flawed replacement over you?" Adam had rejected her and God had created me from Adam. Eventually, Adam chose me over Lilith and her and her son Samael were sent away. Not out of the Garden, just to the other side, away from us. They were not to cross the boundary of the Tree. They were given instructions to leave us in peace. Eventually, Samael would lure me to the Tree… lure me with lust and tempt me beyond anything I had ever experienced before.
You know the rest of that story. It was a bad idea for everyone.
"How dare you!" Lilith shrieked
A few things happened really fast. First, the darkness on the wall behind me peeled up from the wall and wrapped itself tightly around me. It choked out any reply I would have had to Lilith. Next, Harry let loose with a silver white fire ball that flew directly at Lilith's head. Before it reach her, she threw up a wall of water between them. The Soulfire he threw slowly penetrated the wall, but once it was through there was barely enough power left to knock her back a foot and singe the edge of her robes.
I struggled against the darkness around me as Harry faced a really pissed off Lilith. He drew his staff in front of him, his bracelet dangling from his wrist and his right hand holding tight to his blasting rod.
Lilith dropped the wall of water between them and stood in the puddle at her feet. She closed her eyes and began to sing a bitter battle song. As the song grew louder, she began to glow and Harry dropped his staff and rod and fell to his knees. He held his hands over his ears as blood began to drip from them.
I struggled hard against my unseen captor, there was just nothing to get a grip on to fight back and it held me so tight I could feel my flesh bruising and bones on the verge of breaking. I held tight to my sword, but I couldn't move my arm. As I struggled, I was lifted off the floor, taking my last bit of leverage away from me.
Lilith moved closer to Harry, his eyes now vacant and glassy. Her song changed tone and became one of seduction. I tried to call out, to warn him, but nothing came out. The mother of Sirens and Succubi stood directly before him now, she drew her hand up under his chin and he looked up at her as she sang her song. He was tall enough even on his knees that she only had to dip her head slightly touch her lips to his.
Harry's body seized up and he cried out. His back arched painfully and his eyes closed tightly. After a few moments, he fell limply to the stone floor. Lilith looked back to me with a satisfied smile.
"I expected so much more of a fight from Margaret's boy. Such a shame, but he'll be a nice addition to my collection." Her voice oozing with self-satisfaction. "I also expected that he'd have some link to you, Eve. I could have sworn I smelled him on you, but after tasting him, I realize you've kept your hands to yourself. You must have partaken of a close family member, yet I don't recall hearing that he had more family."
Even though nothing came out of my lungs, I cussed a blue streak at her. I felt the shadow tighten again and I could no longer even move my jaw the tiniest bit. The gauntlet on my left arm dug sharply into my flesh and reminded me that it was there, which gave me a fresh idea.
I was jolted from my concentration by a voice I hadn't heard in a century. "You'd be wise not to turn your back on him, Lilith."
Now the shadow made sense. Nicodemus Archelone walked into view from the darkness. His clothing and demeanor definitely looked out of place in a dark hole buried beneath Chicago. He was dressed like a Wall Street business man but instead of a tie, he wore a thin rope tied up like a hangman's noose. That meant that the shadow holding me was his partner in crime, Anduriel. It was one of the Fallen, rebel angels that had been trapped into thirty pieces of silver after the death of Jesus of Nazareth. The Fallen had found Nicodemus, who could not understand how a mortal man could be born anew and who helped wrap Jesus in his burial shroud. They had worked together ever since.
"You'd be wise not to second guess my power, Nicodemus. I've been seducing men and women since the creation of this world. Right Eve?"
I'm pretty sure my eyes told her what I thought of that. She just giggled.
"I mean you no disrespect, dark lady, but he's a crafty one. It is clear why his soul is of great interest to your boss." Nicodemus replied.
Her eyes hot with fury turned on Nicodemus. "You don't think I know that? Don't try to tell me what my mission here is, oh failed one!"
It was at that moment that I felt Anduriel's hold on me waver. I seized the moment and used the shield of my gauntlet to create a bubble around me and began to expand it away from me hard and fast. As soon as I had enough room, I opened the bottom of the shield and dropped down to the floor below and rolled away from the shadow of Anduriel as fast as I could.
Before I could even get to my feet, Harry was on his knees again and had fired a shot of pure force Lilith's back. It took her completely by surprise and launched her directly into Nicodemus. They both tumbled back and I ran to Harry's side and helped him up.
"You ok?" I asked as he stood up shakily.
"If I have to die, that's how I want to go." He said with a half grin.
I snorted, "I'll see what I can arrange."
He ran for the hallway but Anduriel beat us there and had blocked the way. Nicodemus was with him and had pulled out a sword from a sheath under his coat. I parried the incoming strike, and Harry grabbed up his staff and blasting rod.
The beauty of having a sword made by an archangel, is that it's effective against the Fallen. Anduriel shied away from my blade as it began to glow with a blue white light. I kept up with Nicodemus, matching blow for blow and driving him back slowly.
Lilith screamed with rage and Harry tossed up his shield to deflect the force blow of the scream onto Nicodemus, knocking him back further.
She ran at Harry and he fired a fresh volley of Soulfire at her long legs. Instead of trying to call up a water shield, she tried to jump over it, but Harry was ready for it and it followed her upwards like a heat seeking missile. It tripped her and she tumbled across the floor and landed in a very unsexy heap at the base of the alter.
I took a daring stab at Anduriel as he reach out to grab at Harry, a weird squeal was heard as my blade nicked the shadow's edge. Nicodemus tried to blatantly behead me in a sweep of his sword and I dropped low and kicked his knee backwards. I felt Anduriel grab my leg and I landed on my ass in a puddle.
Lilith had gotten to her feet again and began a few notes of a song. Harry hurriedly fired of several large blasts of fire at her, I was stunned at his stamina for one so young. She staggered back, singed but not stopped.
She began her tune again and I screamed at her. "Lilith, shut up!" and rolled to my feet again.
Harry shook off the musical attack. I had to give it to the boy, he was good at keeping people out of his head. He had obviously had experience in this department. Most other men of his age and experience would be stripping themselves naked and offering themselves up for sacrifice by now.
Though, I did happen to notice that the front of his pants gave away that they were in agreement with Lilith, his mind was clearly still his own. For now.
Lilith kept singing, and Harry's body was trying hard to resist. He flung one more fire spell at Lilith that wavered along a drunken path and missed her entirely.
Harry was clearly in the early stages of being a master of fire, but I was made from the rib of Adam who was made from dirt… and the earth was my bitch. I called the forces of power to me. Felt it deep in my stomach and I punched towards the ground. A huge slab of earth and rock shot downwards like it had been neatly cut out with machinery. Conversely, the same size and shape exploded upwards from the floor in front of Lilith and it caught her square in the chin. You could hear the crunch of her teeth (or was that a 'gnashing'?) as her jaw was slammed shut. The blow sent flying backwards over the alter and into the darkness beyond.
"I said… SHUT UP!"
As soon as she stopped singing Harry was at my side and swinging his staff at Nicodemus's head.
"The noose! It's his weakness! Grab the noose!" Harry yelled frantically.
Quick as a flash, Anduriel slammed against me, I felt ribs break and the wind was completely knocked out of me. When I looked up, Anduriel had pulled Nicodemus back to the shadows.
The room was quiet except for the sound of me gasping for breath. I backed up against Harry and we stayed at the ready as we slowly moved toward the alter, our eyes wide as we tried to detect anything moving in the darkness. Harry looked over the altar and I kept my sword up and ready.
"It's a box, should I open it?" he asked.
"No, just grab it and let's find a way out of here." I hissed.
I felt Harry move his arm and dared a glance as he stuffed a wooden box into his duster's large pocket. I waited for him to have the blasting rod back in his hand and started moving beyond the alter.
"Let's hope there's a door on the other side of this room, or we are totally humped." I whispered.
"Screwed. You mean we'd be totally screwed." Harry corrected me.
Then someone hit us with a mac truck, or a piano, or a ton of bricks. Something of that sort. All I know is that I was hit hard and saw fireworks. My sword flew out of my hand as my body hit the floor. I heard it clink and clank as it hit the wall and then the floor far from where I lay.
Without the sword, the room was in darkness. I fumbled around as Lilith's laughter echoed around me and my eyes could barely make out shapes moving against what I assumed to be some luminescent slime on the walls. There was also the chance that I had been hit so hard I was seeing things.
I stumbled over Harry's prone form in the darkness and nearly landed on my face. I kneeled down protectively over him and felt for a pulse and to make sure he was whole. I took up a defensive stance over him, hoping what was left of my gauntlet's shield would be facing the right direction.
The laughter continued, seeming to come from everywhere at once. A shadow caught the corner of my eye and then my head flew forward with a dizzying blow. I collapsed to one knee, then the other. If I could just stop the room from spinning, I could find my sword.
The last thing I remember before I blacked out was seeing was a blur of white run past me accented in a sudden strobe of light and deafening sound. Then I welcomed the cool concrete against my bruised face.
After a daring rescue, Eve gets to finally meet Karrin Murphy. Also, a little more insight into Eve and Thomas's friendship.
I realized I was awake after I had been that way a few minutes. I still refused to open my eyes and fully admit consciousness. It just didn't seem like a good idea.
I could hear voices talking. There was a woman's voice, not one I had ever heard before. Then the other voice, a male voice, was talking and it seemed more familiar. A male voice that sounded smooth and soothing, like sexy underwear. I reached up to rub my face and flinched at what turned out to be a very bad idea.
"She's awake." Sexy Underwear said.
"She can hear you too." I muttered.
I finally gave in and opened my eyes. Thomas Raith sat at my left side. "Well hello there, Sexy Underwear." I tried to sound alluring, but I think it came out more like I'd had too much whiskey the night before.
He flashed me the famous Raith smile and then a short, blonde woman that he had been talking to kindly stepped into my view so I could see her.
"Sounds like the lights are on but nobody's home yet." She was cute more than pretty and her face was scrunched up in a scowl. The scowl clearly read 'COP'.
"And you must be Sergeant Murphy." My voice was still slurred. "I've heard Harry talk about you."
After her scowl didn't improve, I made an effort to sit up and felt Thomas's hands help me. I reached up and touched the back of my head. "Ow… " I touched my brow, "Ow again". Then touched my shoulder and sucked in a breath, "Triple Ow!"
Thomas and Murphy (did she even have a first name?) simply looked at me as I assessed my situation. I finally heard another deep voice say "Damn it, Indy, where DOESN'T it hurt?"
Oh good, Harry was alive.
I turned to my right to see Harry lying on a camping cot against the far wall of the room. Mouse was at his side and his tail beat out a rhythm on the floor as Harry spoke. He was bruised up, but smiling that roguish grin of his. He was shirtless and had a few smaller bandages on his chest and stomach and some butterfly stitches on a cut above his eye. It looked like his duster had saved him from everything but a few bruises.
"Why don't you come over here and find out?" I threw back at him with a smile.
Sergeant Murphy took that moment to kneel next to Harry, blocking my view of him. She glared over her shoulder at me before turning to tend to him. Oh, right, angsty, sexual tension, love interest. Meeeeow.
I looked around the room and realized it looked like an old lady's handbag exploded. It was all roses, stripes and ruffles. Someone's grandmother had decorated this room, I was sure of it. Seeing as I was pretty sure Thomas or Harry had never even met their grandmother, I had to assume we were at Murphy's place.
While the décor was hard on the eyes, it smelled like home, safety and strawberries. I lay back on the overly soft bed and sighed trying hard not to listen in on the conversation happening across the room. Murphy was agitated and Harry was flippant. You could tell it was a dance they had done a hundred times.
Thomas, who was still seated at my side, looked down at me, then over to Murphy and Harry. He asked very quietly, "Do you see it too?"
"Yeah, pretty obvious don't you think?" I whispered in kind. He was clearly talking about the romantic interest between Harry and Murphy.
"To everyone but them." He nearly growled it under his breath.
I frowned at him slightly, I would have frowned more, but it hurt my head too much. "It's often that way, little one. Many times it's completely passed up and happiness successfully avoided. People avoid happiness when they can. Especially people like them, who see danger and death so often in their lives." I set my hand on Thomas's arm and brought his silver eyes back to me. "Why does it bother you so much? Why are you so concerned about them?"
He shut his eyes slowly and took in a deep breath. "I think you already know the answer to that." He absentmindedly played with the ends of my long white hair.
I nodded. "Justine. You can't be with your love, and you are frustrated that they forsake theirs."
Thomas just nodded. After a quick look to make sure no one was looking, I took his arm and pulled him down to me, placing a kiss on his mouth, forcing a bit of my soul into him through the contact. I had let Thomas feed off me in the past. He knew I was in no danger from his Hunger, my soul was infinite. He had obviously winded himself quite a bit in helping us and the Hunger was sitting there, waiting right behind his eyes. I would do more to help him later, but the small bite would have to do for now.
As he pulled away gently I noticed his eyes were more of a grey-blue. He gave me a wink and a sad smile. Thomas had a heart of gold trapped in an iron cage. He was trapped between my world and Lilith's, and that's a horrible place to be. I wished so much to help him, but there was nothing I could do than to feed his darker self and cheer on his human side.
Sergeant Murphy had Harry sitting up now and was doting over the knot on his head while he whined and swatted at her hands and she called him a big baby.
"How did you find us?" I asked to the room in general, wanting to change the subject. This place was starting to depress the hell out of me. I started to strap on my gauntlet so that its healing powers could revive me quickly. I noted that I had a bruise in the perfect outline of the gauntlet on my forearm. Nice.
"We were, um… following you." Thomas admitted, looking at Harry.
Harry arched a single brow. "Why would you be following me?"
Thomas looked at the Sergeant. "Karrin was worried about you." He said with a bit of a smile in his voice.
"I was not! You came to me for help!" She snapped, looking betrayed.
"It was your idea to tail them!" Thomas defended.
"Only because you told me he was with someone dangerous!" She hissed it like a stage whisper.
"I didn't say she was dangerous, I said she was powerful." Thomas said smugly.
I laid there in between the banter watching it like a tennis match. Willing as much energy as I could into the gauntlet so it would heal this headache before it got worse. Feeling the warmth that went with the healing powers Galahad had placed on the armor.
"Girls, girls!" I finally interrupted, "You're both pretty." Harry stifled a laugh and Murphy looked murderously at me.
"Can we stop talking about me like I'm not in the room now?" I asked nicely.
Murphy looked at me and puffed up protectively. "I want to know what is going on." She then turned on Harry. "Why wasn't I notified?"
Harry put up his hands in surrender or pre-emptively defending himself. "It's just a case, Murph, I don't call you in on every case I get just like you don't call me in on all of your cases."
"But you tell Thomas?" She threw at him.
"Hell's bells, I didn't tell him anything. I am just as much in the dark here as you are."
Then, they both turned to look at Thomas and me. I sighed and sat up again, my headache merely a tingle in the back of my mind now. Since my senses had cleared a bit, I realized I smelled like sewer water.
"Thomas knew I was looking for you, Harry. I went to him to find you." I admitted.
"I told her that you were listed in the phone book." Thomas added. Although ultimately true, the interaction was a bit more, ahem, complicated than that and I felt my cheeks flush a bit. Then he dropped his head a little, looking guilty. "Then, I followed you both."
Harry made a face that I assumed meant he was thinking the whole thing over. Just about the moment I expected smoke to come out of his ears, he looked me nearly in the eyes and said, "You know."
Before I could admit or deny anything, Thomas said "Yes, she knows."
Murphy crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back against the wall near the cot. "At this point, who doesn't know? The list has got to be shorter."
"I knew your mother, Harry." I said as gently as I could. "She was…a friend."
Harry just sat there, unmoving. "So, why didn't you tell me?"
"Why wouldn't I stir up a huge pot of emotions before I took you with me into something potentially dangerous? Harry, you're smarter than that, child." I swung my legs over the edge of the bed to face him.
"It was my intent to get you through this in one piece. I made a promise to Thomas that I'd bring you back whole. I like to keep my promises, Harry."
Harry looked between Thomas and me and grumbled, "Hell's bells." Then he got up and headed out of the room. I watched him go and then turned back to see Murphy staring me square in the face.
Thomas took one look at Murphy and stood up, "I'll…just…go check on Harry." Then the traitorous little punk left me alone in the lioness's den.
"Hi, we haven't been formally introduced. I'm Eve." I put my hand out, but the tiny woman just scowled at me. What was with these people and not shaking hands?
I let my hand drop and took in a breath. "Ok, Sergeant, let's hear it."
To my surprise, she sat down next to me on the bed. "He's more fragile than he seems."
I blinked at the little blonde a few times. I realized that she too was more fragile than she would let on. "Which is why I didn't tell him about my relationship with Thomas and I let him see me and judge me for himself."
She frowned at that. "Relationship?"
I snorted, "Not like THAT, well, I mean, maybe a little like that, but it's complicated unless you really know what I am."
"And…what ARE you?"
I turned my body to face her, bringing one leg up onto the bed. "I am the mold they forgot to break. I am everything you and every other woman are. I have very little limits except for the blueprint of female intuition and instinct. I nurture, I care for, I breed, I punish, I seduce and reward. I am the mother of humanity, and I am eternal. I have spent thousands of years watching my children suffer. I am tired, and I want to go home."
"What are you to Thomas? I'm assuming you know what he is."
Why did I feel like I was being cornered? I tried to keep a calm look on my face. "I know what he is, but I also know the measure of him."
She raised her brows together, incredulity clear on her face.
"I mean I know his heart, his human soul." I hurried to explain. "He is two souls sharing the same host. His Demon has to be contained or it will damage his humanity, yet feeding his Demon damages him just the same."
She tried to grasp what I was saying. It sometimes seems the older I got the less astute at communication I was.
"Maybe I'm the one not being clear." She said. "So let's be a little more candid. Have been…intimate with him?" Her blue eyes seized onto mine with that last sentence.
"Ok, now I think you just need a time out." I crossed my arms over my chest.
"A time out?"
"Yes, you obviously don't know that you've crossed a line that you just don't cross. Kissing and telling only happens between friends and you have done quite a bit here to imply that you are not my friend."
Her jaw dropped and she stared at me.
My patience with this little girl was beyond thin now. "Yes, yes, I get it, you're being territorial and these are your boys that you look after. You're the one Harry runs to when he is in trouble, you view me as competition and you're trying to piss a circle around him to mark your territory."
Murphy just blinked at me.
I felt my face get hot as the whole idea of it just seemed more ridiculous to me. It was time to teach her a little lesson on who was really the alpha female here.
My voice started to pitch up a bit. "I've had Thomas, I've fed his Hunger and pleased him physically. I'll do it again if he needs or wants it. I'd give him and Justine a child to raise if they so wished it. He truly knows love and clings to it no matter how it hurts him."
I stood up and loomed over her. "Harry is lost and alone like a child left in a dark strange place. I want nothing more than to just hold him tight and make the monsters go away for him. He's walking down his mother's path and this time, the world will have to follow him. There's a huge burden on his shoulders and he needs to be reminded that he's human, that he's sane and that there is something left to fight for."
Murphy stood up, a full foot shorter than me, but she refused to look tiny. Fire was behind those eyes now as she stabbed a finger into my sternum. "So what? You'll fuck Harry now in order to make him feel better? To give him the strength to carry on?" Her voice was sharp and sarcastic.
She pushed past me to the door to the room as I shouted back, "NO, that's YOUR job! You're the one who has the love that can save him from himself… and you damn well know it!"
She opened the door to storm out and Harry was standing on the other side of it looking dumbfounded. He looked at Murphy, he looked at me, his face turned bright pink and he said, "So, anyone thirsty?"
So, what's up with the box? And Harry should be more careful with his Wizard Sight.
Sergeant Murphy pushed past Harry, who wisely stepped out of her warpath. He looked back at me, "Making friends?"
I rubbed my neck where the last tingles of my headache lingered and watched the last of the bruise on the inside of my arm fade away. "Looks that way. You have quite a spit fire on your hands there, Dresden."
"Tell me about it." He blew out a breath and began to button up the shirt he was putting on.
"She loves you." I said.
"I know." He said in a defeated tone without looking up at me.
"You love her too."
"Yeah, but I just don't think it's in the cards." He finished buttoning his shirt.
"Says who?" I asked.
"Timing just seems to be bad for us, we're both seeing other people right now." He said with a tone of finality that said he was done talking about it.
"Bad timing is for people who have time, Harry."
I turned from him and started to gather my cloak that was piled on a chair in the room. I really needed a shower, but I had no change of clothes so what was the point. I picked up Harry's duster from the pile and laid it across the bed. There was a lump in it where our hard earned prize awaited.
I looked to Harry who was still standing in the door frame, his head nearly touching the top of it. He was still absorbing our conversation and was frowning down at his coat.
"Um, after the conversation I just had with the Sergeant, I'm not even daring to go rummaging through your pockets without permission. She might kill me." I gestured to the lump.
"I thought you couldn't die." He grinned.
"You'd be amazed at what kind of pain you can live through." I said.
Harry entered the room and leaned over to pull the box out of his coat. He held it gently in his hands, still only trusting his left hand for back up.
The box was in the shape of a hexagon, and it was larger than the palm of Harry's large hands. It was ornately carved dark wood with golden trim. It lacked hinges, but had three clasps keeping it sealed, one on every other side of the six sides. He turned and headed for the living room where we sat in chairs across from each other and placed the box between us on the coffee table. Mouse joined us and lay down at the end, staring at the box warily. Harry and I joined Mouse in simply staring at the thing, willing it to give up its secrets.
"So, open it." Thomas blurted.
I just about jumped out of my seat, I hadn't heard him even come into the room, let alone get right behind my shoulder. Damn sneaky vampires. I glared at him and he smirked behind lidded eyes. Damn cute vampires.
I looked back to the box, "We can't just flip it open. What if it can only be opened by the pure of heart or something?"
Karrin returned to the room, crossed her arms and leaned against the wall. "Well then, if Mouse can't open it, I'd say you're all screwed."
Harry nodded in agreement, "She may be onto something there." Mouse's tail thumped against the floor and he grinned up at Harry.
"I don't want this thing going all 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' on us." I said. "I'm not feeling any dark energy coming from it, but I didn't feel Lilith either."
Harry shut his eyes, frowned for a second, and then opened them again. He looked a bit dazed at first, but he stared at the box on the table. Harry was using his Wizard Sight. "There seems to be something on the outside of the box. It's really old, I don't think I've ever seen a working this old. It must have one helluva power source."
He got quiet, then whistled low, "… and what's inside it must be the source. There's a ridiculous amount of power in there."
"Define 'ridiculous'." Thomas demanded.
"Like, the power of the sun." He said seriously.
I nodded, "That's a lot of power in one tiny little box."
He looked up at me without dropping his Sight and yelled out as he grabbed his head and tumbled out of the chair.
Thomas was at his side in less than a heartbeat, almost before Harry had hit the floor, I'm not even sure how he got around the chair I was sitting in. Murphy followed and they helped him back up into the chair. He was crying. Large tears streaming down his face and he wiped at his face to try to clear his eyes of them.
Karrin glared at me. "What did you do to him?"
"What? I didn't do a damn thing! He did it to himself!" I could tell she was starting to like having me around. We'd be gal pals in no time.
She was about to sling something else at me when Harry started laughing. Not just a chuckle, a full hearty belly laugh. Tears still streamed down his face.
"Great, he's finally cracked." Thomas observed. "If he goes full vegetable, I nominate Karrin for diaper changing duty." Karrin shot him a look that could have turned him to stone if he were human.
Harry was trying to talk between fits of crying laughter. "No, it was…just give me a mo...ment…" He bent over and put his face in his hands and tried to contain the laughter.
I was very concerned, the last wizard that had looked at me with his Sight remained insane until the end of his days. Of course, he looked at me with his site for a few hours straight and refused to look away. He deserved what he got, the peeping Tom.
He sat up again after what seemed like an eternity. Took a deep breath and wiped some tears off his face. I reached over and put my hand on his knee. "Are you ok?"
He put his hand on mine and said, "Yeah, I think so. You sure pack a punch though. That was… beautiful." Another giggle crept out him.
Karrin made a snorting noise as she got up off the floor next to Harry. I became acutely aware that my hand was on Harry's knee and pulled it back like it was on fire. Harry was still in some sort of weird euphoria from seeing me and my endless life in his Sight.
"Sorry about that, Harry. I should have kept quiet while you were working." I really felt guilty and I was seriously not winning any points with Karrin.
He wiped one last tear off his face and sniffled. "It's ok, I'll be ok."
"Can we be a little more careful around the box with the sun in it now?" Karrin chided us. "That coffee table is an antique."
Harry cleared his throat and got back to business. "Right!" He rubbed his hands together eagerly. "Okay, what we have here is what we call a non-repeating phantasm, or a class-5 free roaming vapor, real nasty one too."
Everyone in the room groaned. Even Mouse.
"I am so under appreciated." Harry continued.
"Can we open the box or not?" I asked.
"I'm going to suggest we put up some precautionary wards first, but I think we can open it without melting any Nazis."
"In my living room?" Murphy didn't sound like she liked the idea. "I don't think so, Dresden, I've made it this far without you blowing up my house, I'd like to keep it that way."
I stood up, "Ok then, back to your place, Harry." I went back to the bedroom for my gear.
"Why is it ok to blow my place up?" Harry protested. Karrin gave him a steady look. "Fine." He got up and snagged up the box as he went.
I put on my cloak and grabbed my sword belt to put it on. Immediately something registered as wrong. It was far too light. I did a double take at the empty scabbard.
I popped my head back into the living room, "Hey, where's my sword?"
Thomas and Karrin looked at each other for a moment. Then back at me. In perfect unison they said, "What sword?"
What's in the damn box? Why is it important? What do Lilith and the Denarians REALLY want?
When Harry Met Eve
By Evelyn Raith
It was dark and cold in Harry’s basement lab. Harry had demanded that everyone else had to stay upstairs but me and I had a feeling that privilege was about to be revoked. It might have been because I was pacing back and forth in the small space between the intricate model of Chicago that took up most of the room and the shelving on the walls.
Harry was sitting on the floor in the far corner of the room just outside a circle of metal that was inlaid in the floor. The box we had procured was sitting in the center of it and Harry was muttering something that I think was supposed to sound like Latin. Close, but just not quite there.
I huffed an impatient breath and did another lap around the table.
Harry opened one eye and glared up at me.
“Fine!” I said in answer at the unspoken request. “I’ll just go wait upstairs with the others. Maybe I can start some sort of Thunderdome scenario with your girlfriends.”
He opened both eyes and glared harder.
I stomped up the ladder stairs and bellowed. “Two women enter! One woman leaves!”
I emerged into a room that was only slightly better lit. At least it smelled less like rotting moss and sandalwood up here. Molly was sitting in an armchair by the fire and saw me emerge. She perked up.
“He got it open?” She asked.
“No, he’s still working on it.” I answered. I think the suspense was killing her as much as it was me. I was the only immortal I knew with the patience level of a teenager.
Not wanting to admit that I had been ousted. I continued, “I trust him to handle it on his own, it’s just a matter of time and I have other things to worry about.”
“Other things? What other things?” Molly was just full of questions. Guess that’s what being an apprentice is all about. I was thousands of years old and still asking questions.
“Your sword.” Thomas answered for me from the ratty old couch.
I just nodded. I was trying very hard not to panic. Like a child trying to be brave after losing their favorite stuffed animal.
“We should go back to Undertown and see if we can locate it.” Thomas offered.
I shook my head. “No, they’ll have vacated the spot now that we know the location.”
“Maybe they didn’t see it in the dark?” Molly said, hopefully.
“No, if it was left, they have it. Anduriel IS the dark and I’m sure he could feel its presence.”
A soft voice came from the dark corner by Harry’s bedroom door, “The sword has magical properties?” Karrin was standing in a position where she could see out of the high set windows in the room easily.
I turned to face her. “Yes, it was crafted by an Archangel and forged in the fires of Hell itself. It burns both good and evil alike. Angels and demons could feel it and fear it.”
“What if that’s what they wanted?” She never moved from her spot, or even looked my direction.
I frowned at her, confused, “They wanted to fear it?”
“No, they wanted the sword itself.”
The moment the words left her mouth, I felt a cold chill run down my spine. Hell’s Fury was a powerful sword in Lilith’s hands, but in the hands of Anduriel and Nicodemus? The things they could bring about with it as a facilitator or even the damage they could do to the one remaining Knight of the Cross. I shuddered from head to foot.
My head spun as I recalled how easy it had been to find the box Harry was toiling over at this very moment. All my connections seemed to so easily fall into place, starting with Lara Raith. When Lilith failed to find me with Harry, they had a plan B that would bring me to them in Undertown.
I was about to say something very unladylike when the trap door to Harry’s lab popped open and Harry carefully carried out the box I hadn’t fought nearly hard enough to get my hands on.
With a huge grin on his face, he walked to the coffee table in the middle of the room set it down, and opened the lid. Inside the small six-sided box was a lump of almost waxy looking dark material.
I walked over and kneeled down before the box. I looked up at Harry and he gave me a nod. I reached forward and poked at the material with my index finger, then leaned over to smell the substance.
“Balm of Gilead?”
“Yup!” Harry pronounced victoriously with his hands on his hips like a comic book hero.
Molly looked a little lost. “It’s myrrh.” He explained.
“I don’t understand. There was so much power here, I thought for sure it would be The Book of Secrets. How could it just be myrrh?” I picked up the box and tipped it around to see if I had missed something.
“What the hell is myrrh?” Thomas asked.
Karrin stepped forward and placed a hand on Thomas’s shoulder. The action seemed awkward for them both. “It’s sap from a bush. They use it as incense in churches and religious ceremonies.”
“Like the gifts of the magi given to Jesus Christ on his birth in Bethlehem, gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Molly added.
At Molly’s words, I carefully set the box back down. “Oh…”
Karrin blinked and stepped forward to look down at the lump of dark resin that lay in the box. “You don’t think that this could be… “
“… one of the actual Gifts of the Magi? Yes, I think it might.” I carefully closed the lid on the box.
Molly leaned forward. “So you think this was one of the actual gifts the three Wise Men brought to baby Jesus?”
“Twelve.” I corrected her. “There were twelve Wise Men.”
“There were only three Wise Men.” Karrin stated as a matter of fact.
Harry was stroking his badly-needing-a-shave face. “No, they were wizards, it was more likely to be twelve. That’s a very powerful number.”
I nodded in agreement. “Magi, Wise Men, Wizards, whatever you want to call them, they were descendants of my third son, Seth. They brought three gifts, and their numbers are never stated in Matthew, so it became a common embellishment that there were three gift givers as well. In actuality, there were twelve of them that made the journey.”
We all stared at the box for a few breaths.
“Uh, I’m assuming that means this is powerful stuff?” Thomas said with a smirk.
“Yeah, it’s powerful stuff, pretty boy.” Harry smirked back. “In fact, just this one gift could be used to cause serious damage if in the wrong hands. Just opening it was like defusing a bomb.” Everyone in the room suddenly leaned away from the box.
“Imagine what could happen if Lilith and Nicodemus had all three gifts.” I said out loud to myself.
Harry shrugged. “They couldn’t do much more than local damage unless they had a catalyst with significant power. Then it could be worldwide damage.”
“What?” Harry looked at each of us, confused.
“Harry, they have her sword.” Karrin explained.
Harry groaned and rubbed his whole face with his hand.
Thomas stood up. “Well, that makes things easier.”
“Easier, how?” Harry asked incredulously.
“They are going to want their little bomb box back. We don’t have to go find them, they will come find us. We just have to be ready.”
Molly groaned now, “Famous last words.”
Disclaimer: Harry Dresden and all established characters, settings, etc. are the property of Jim Butcher and ROC publishers. The original characters and plots are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.