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Turnabout is Fair Play

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"I'll be honest with you, Mags." Taako shivered, his hairs standing on end and his ears craned all the way back, almost flat against his head. "Taako's gettin' bad vibes. Seriously bad vibes." Magnus stopped in front of the large wooden door, wanting to finish their job but all the while taking heed of what his friend was feeling. 


"Are you okay with going through with this job? You were the one that suggested we take it, after all." Magnus shrugged, looking back towards Taako now, a concerned frown on full display. Taako tugged his wizard hat further on his head and took a deep breath, trying to calm down before moving forward. 


"We need to do this. Bad vibes or not, we don't really have a choice. This is...important." To you, Taako left unsaid, knowing full well what they had set out to do. He couldn't turn back now, it felt wrong to. Magnus may not know who they're fighting, but running away now would be betraying him, in a sense. Taako swallowed back his worry and grabbed ahold of his wand, ready for action. 


"Merle? You good?" Taako asked, shooting him a look. Merle exchanged it and nodded, frowning as he pulled out his X-Treme Teen Bible. No going back now. Magnus nodded, turning to face the door once more and giving it a hard shove, watching as it slowly creaked open. He took note of the ornate polished tiles, leading up to a set of stairs, all coming to a stop at a large throne. It was tall, heads taller than the man who sat in it, decorated with beautiful jewels and stones and carved with intricate patterns-


"What do you want?" A deep voice growled at the three, and the man on the throne tapped his cane on the tile impatiently. "I don't take visitors, so I would suggest you leave." The older man sat up, already towering over them, and glared.


"Well I guess it's a good thing we won't be staying for long, then." Magnus quipped, pulling out his chance lance and readying it at the man. 


"Oh? Hired thugs? Interesting." The man stood, seemingly unbothered by what was going on, and walked down the steps. "Who contracted you?" 


"A man who used to live in Raven's Roost." Taako all but hissed, holding his wand at the ready, knuckles white. "Sound familiar?" The man raised an eyebrow, laughing at his response. Magnus glanced back at Taako, knitting his brow in confusion, but Taako didn't answer it. Instead, he strode toward the older man, long elegant steps, almost close enough to fight him hand-to-hand. 


"What do you have to say for yourself, you pathetic, worthless, slimy human?" Taako spat on his shoes, growling at the man like a tiger who had just cornered its prey.


"What do I have to say, I wonder. It was fun, watching that little town collapse and fall into ruin. And it was even better watching as a beautiful young lady cried, pleading as she saw what was happening, trying to fight back." The man walked in circles around Taako, but turned to look at Magnus, finally recognizing him, and a wicked smile crossed his face. "I killed her, naturally." And then, out of nowhere, the man whipped back to Taako, moving in close, and a searing pain blinded Taako's vision. He looked down slowly at the dagger embedded in his gut, and looked into the man's eyes. 


"Wrong...move...asshole!" Taako groaned, and felt the tell tale spark of magic in his hand, and without hesitating he cast scorching ray at point-blank range. The man stumbled backwards, trying to quickly put out the flames, taking a fair amount of damage in the process. 


"Shit, Taako! Are you okay?" Magnus had already thrown the chance lance, tried and true to its aim, straight at the man's back. With the agility unheard of for an old man, he grabbed Taako and held him against his chest. Magnus cursed and recalled the chance lance, knuckles white as he held it tight. 


"I wouldn't do that if I were you, Magnus." The man clicked his tongue, holding Taako in front of him with his dagger pressed to his throat. Taako met Magnus' concerned look, and he closed his eyes, tracing his thumb over his band of projected thought. 


Don't worry about cha'boy. Taako smiled weakly, Magnus' eyes widening when he heard Taako communicating telepathically. Keep him distracted. Merle has a plan. I'll be fine. Magnus slowly walked toward the man, not too close but enough to attack in a moment's notice. He glanced behind the man, and sure enough, Merle was ducking behind the throne, flipping through his X-Treme Teen Bible. 


Are you sure? Magnus shot back at Taako, who winked in return. His stomach hurt like hell, and the dagger at his throat certainly wasn't helping things, but he couldn't mess up Merle's plan. He just had to deal with it for a while longer, and then he could unleash hell. 


"Unless you like seeing the people closest to you get hurt, I would suggest you kindly keep your distance." The man sneered, pricking Taako's neck with just the tip of the dagger, just enough to draw blood. "We wouldn't want a repeat of Raven's Roost, now would we?"


"What do you mean? Who are you?!" Magnus was shouting now, his heart beating hard with anger and adrenaline. "How do you know about Raven's Roost? And why do you know me?"


"Oh, I'm shocked, Magnus. Really, I am." The man paused, tapped the dagger on and off Taako's neck. "How would she feel, if she knew you had forgotten the man you worked so hard to ruin? And how would she feel, for you forgetting the man who killed her and the rest of that pathetic town? Julia would be heartbroken." 


"You-" Magnus bit his tongue, dropping the chance lance in favor of the flaming raging poisoning sword of doom. Taako shook his head weakly, his vision blurring. Not yet...just hold on a little more...


"The name, as you should very well know by now, is Governor Kalen. Though, I suppose I should thank you and your lover for relieving me of duty." Kalen smirked, using his free hand to run through Taako's braid. The feeling set Taako on edge, his ears folded completely back, biting his lip, but all the while feeling the strength leave his body. "You know, right after I bombed Raven's roost, I managed to hide out in another town. I used an alias, changed my appearance, and made my way back up the ranks once more, right back at the top where I belong. Some good your rebellion did." The hand in Taako's hair stopped, and he loosened his hold on him ever so slightly.


"I'm getting rather tired of this, so I suppose it's time to wrap things up here." His voice was steady and more serious than before, and he unceremoniously threw Taako to the ground. "Come on and fight me then, Magnus. Show me what you would have done for Julia!" He ran towards Magnus at a full sprint, swiping at him with his dagger, and with a flash of light Della Reese was at Magnus' side, gleaming sword and shield in hand. She stuck Kalen down with practiced ease, and he crumpled to the ground. Groaning, he tried to stand once more, but a pillar of flame rained down from above and pushed him back down. His screams and pleas for mercy were drowned out by the fire. 


"Magnus! Grab Taako, we need to leave now!" Merle's voice cut through the constant noise, and Magnus wasted no time in scooping Taako up in his arms. Aside from small groans of pain, he was unresponsive. Shit. Not good. Merle ran past the two of them, already bolting for the door. The flame had begun to spread along the walls, lighting up the tapestries that hung there, along with the small desks and other furniture in the room. "Come on, Mags!"


Magnus strangled out a quick apology to Taako before he rushed to Merle's side, a wooden pillar slowly crumbling away and collapsing behind him. Taako twitched in his hold, hissing and breathing unsteadily, his skin looking awfully pale. Magnus cursed, tightening his hold on Taako as he made it outside, and they kept on running. They only stopped once they were far enough away to not be caught up in the mess the town would create, Merle looking through his bag for any potions while Magnus delicately set him down. He propped his head up on his lap, tearing off a strip of fabric and pushing it into the wound. Taako grit his teeth, and Magnus apologized again, trying to keep pressure on his stomach to stop the bleeding as much as he could. Merle threw his bag to the ground, apparently empty, and called on Pan for one last spell. He placed his hands over Taako's stomach and channeled all the magic he could into a healing word, and hoped it would be enough. After a few minutes, Magnus pulled back the cloth, scowling at the wound. Most of it had been healed, but the deepest parts still looked fairly bad. It was definitely going to leave a scar. 


Magnus wrapped the wound with a long bandage, wiping the sweat of his brow as Taako started to stir in his lap. 


"Fuck's sake, what took you so long? If I'd known you were just going to cast two spells and quit, I would've kicked his ass already!" Taako grumbled, still feeling like absolute shit, but also significantly better. He turned his head, watching as the dwindling light of the evening was replaced with a fiery red glow, accompanied by clouds of smoke. "At least that shitbag's dealt with. Good fucking riddance!" 


"Hey, guys?" Magnus combed his hand through Taako's bangs, and was surprised to feel him lean into the touch. He took note of it. "I can't quite remember what he did myself, but it what he said was true...thank you, for stopping him. It...means a lot." 


"No problem. Cha'boy's always got you covered." Taako smiled, patting the hand that rested on his stomach. "Now can we get the fuck out of dodge? I'd much rather be in my house, eating a nice batch of soup, than be in the middle of the fucking woods swatting off mosquitoes."