It was while we were sitting at the table that the sense of doom hit me in the stomach. I saw lights behind my eyes, and my precognitive talents came to life.
I was floating above the stage of the auditorium at school. It was the last night of the school play. Julianne was taking my solo part, but I knew that keeping my family together was more important than going to the show. Kevin was performing on stage, and my heart beat a little faster, watching him. Brushing aside his presence, I searched the crowd for any signs of danger.
With the sensation like my stomach was a drum, I felt a hit to my solar plexus. I stared at Kevin, singing and dancing on stage, and my throat felt tight. This was where the dreadful sensation was coming from. Somewhere around this area something, or someone, was on the prowl. Kevin was about to die.
I pulled out of my vision and stood up abruptly. My heart was pounding. I knew I couldn't make it on foot fast enough, even with blur or pulling out of time. I had a suspicion that I was dealing with Simon, and his power at pulling out of time was far more advanced than my own. Mum's memories indicated she had no way of doing what Simon could when it came to moving out of time.
Grams groaned and collapsed over the table. I felt the wall between our world and the nether realms rip apart. My precognitive talent whipped open at the same time, and I had an image of Simon appearing on stage at school and rushing towards Kevin.
"Grams, wake up please," I pleaded. I touched the side of her face, and my healing ability sensed that her problem was tiredness, yet my empathy picked up a strange cord that connected her with something that disappeared into the...nether realms! Things were coming to a head, and my warrior was screaming that this was a pincer attack. Kate would be attacking us here while grams was down, and Simon was going to use some sort of bait to lure me away from grams.
I felt cold at this realisation. Kevin was the bait. As bait went, he was a very convincing reason to go rushing to his aid. Mum was right. Something was going to stop me from having the guardianship of the barrier pass down to me. But I wasn't going to go down without a fight.
I closed my eyes, sank deep within my core, and touched the branches of my tree. Dread was pushing me to rush, but I knew that I could make an error by rushing. I skimmed over the talents upon my tree, and brushed against my astral projection talent.
Mum's experiences and knowledge came in handy, but I was going to add to it, and do something that mum couldn't with her astral ability. I didn't have time to test if this would work. Kevin was going to die if I delayed any longer.
Taking a deep breath, I pulled power from the base of my tree, and pushed it into my astral projection. I wove telekinesis, and telepathy into the blend, and pushed my warrior into the driver's seat of this Molotov cocktail. They went shooting off towards the school.
I dug deeper into my power source. I could feel the lives and emotions of millions as I pulled upon resources that I hadn't tapped into before. Power flooded into me, and I felt it from my feet, all the way and out my head. I wanted to scream as it raced through me like an electric current, recharging me, but almost bordering on pain.
Using my healer's eye sight, I looked upon the cord that went from grams into the nether realms. This was the reason her strength kept getting drained each time she tried to strengthen the barrier. I touched that cord with a surgeon's precision and felt a darkness flare beneath my probe. I needed more time. The room warped and weaved as I pulled us out of time, it was unnerving, but I pushed it aside. I needed my concentration to be complete as I worked surgery upon her.
I didn't know if cutting this cord would destroy or help her. I began to pick up impressions from the cord as my healing talent scanned all over it, combined with empathy. My body shuddered. I would know that essence anywhere; it was part of Lucifvar. He was a pervading essence, and I shuddered at it with disgust. What did this mean? I had killed Lucifvar. I know I did, or had I?
I wondered how the cord got there, and my precognitive skills kicked in. This time, instead of images, insights came flooding into my mind. When grams had created the shield around Lucifvar's dark leech, a piece of Kate's soul had been trapped with it, and been consumed by the leech. In turn, the leech had begun to take on human characteristics. Over a period of time, the dark leech had grown, and soon Kate's powers had become it's own.
Using Kate's own memories and talents, it unlocked the secret that allowed access to and from the nether realms. Simon and Kate had discovered this secret when they were 16. It was how Simon ended up on the other side without grams being aware.
However, the leech had decided to take things further. It wanted to torment grams, and it now understood the link between the barrier and its guardian, grams. Using the same link that kept our world free of demons and other supernatural beings, the leech discovered a way of draining the energy from the barrier into itself, without being destroyed by it.
This parasitic leech had been draining grams for nearly twenty years, due to her connection to the barrier. I was ready to destroy the cord when an image hit me. I watched as gram's skin turned dry, like a mummy, while her hair remained a pure silvery white. Yet the picture lacked the quality and sound I was used to. I tasted the edges of it with my empathy, trying to get the scent and flavour of it. It came back flat and tasteless.
A trap! The leech was using a survival tactic. This was an illusion it had put up to distract me. I closed my eyes and pushed my empathy out like an energy wave. I had had enough of this, and my patience had come to an end.
My power flowed down the cord and I heard the leech scream as it furiously tried to cut the connection to grams. My power was anathema to them because it was based on positive, pure energy, something these low density entities could not abide by. I sped up, and raced ahead in an attempt to prevent it from doing so. It turned, and I saw a shadow version of Lucifvar, slashing at the cord that went into its navel. I snarled, and drew up an energy ball to hurl at it. I distantly heard screams as the energy ball went flying towards its target.
Two things happened. I realised I was seeing through the eyes of my warrior at the school, on stage. He was fighting Simon, but warned me this was a `shadow' of our nemesis; the real one was not here. The second thing I saw was the cord snap to this Lucifvar-leech, and I was flung back into gram's house.
I heard applause as I opened my eyes. There standing in front of me, was Cousin Kate. I frowned. "Don't make me hurt you, Kate."
She looked down at me, gave me a tight smile, and then looked away. I rushed towards her, forgetting that my warrior skills were still busy at the school. I was human slow, and she back handed me. I went flying, and saw stars. My healing kicked in, but I still felt my back snap when I landed. My spinal column re-healed, but the process was sluggish. Kate came rushing towards me, kicked me in the side, and the pain nearly had me blacking out.
My empathy came rushing to my rescue as she directed another kick at me. It sparkled around my body like a glove, and I heard her scream as her foot disintegrated on touching me. She collapsed on to the ground beside me. The pain from my injuries faded and I stood up, staring down at her.
I felt the hairs on the back of my neck rise, and I put an empathic shield around me in time to block the flames she directed at me. Although I couldn't channel the elements, that strange quirk within my empathic talent, meant I could convert her flames into energy, and thus my empathic shield. I knew I could create ice within my shield; I had done it during mum's funeral to hide my own heart all those years ago. She changed her weapon into streams of lightning, and I felt my skin singe and burn from a thousand currents of electrical discharge. This was an element from which only telekinesis could protect me, but that talent was with my warrior. I screamed in pain, and lashed out with a net of empathic raw energy. The barrage of lightning stopped, and I panted with pain while making small mewling sounds of hurt. I healed, but my healing skills were getting slower and slower.
Dad came rushing into the room, with Leon on his heels. "Stay out of the way!" I shouted. I may have taken Kate down, for the moment, but there was still Simon on the prowl. I looked toward where Kate lay. Her face was frozen in pain, and I touched her skin. It felt like fine powder, and I jerked my hand back as I saw her face turn to dust and collapse upon itself. Her whole body disintegrated right in front of me.
Kate's laughter echoed around the room, and I pushed dad and Leon behind me, back the way they came. "Get out of here. Take everyone in the house and get as far from here as you can."
"I'm not leaving you son," dad said.
I created an empathic shield around the entire room. If Kate was now in spirit form, my empathic shield would keep her trapped indefinitely. I even put a shield around Grams. Yet, something wasn't right about this whole scenario. I could sense that there was an underlying twist or `wrongness' and that I would pay the consequences, soon.
I pushed dad out the door. The shield closed with a pop and I sensed Kate screaming her rage. What I did next I knew was wrong, but my family's protection came first. I drew the emotion of urgency into me and unleashed it upon dad and Leon. Panic filled their faces. "Run," I whispered, "Take Leila, Sara, and Elsa, and run!"
They turned away from me, blindly running for the door. They both began screaming at the top of their lungs to Leila and Elsa to go with them. I turned back to the room. Grams was still in there. I had a sense that I had fallen for Kate's trap, I rushed back in.
I walked through my empathic shield and understood where that sense of wrongness came from. Kate stood in front of grams, whole and alive. Grams was a dried out husk of a woman with silver/white hair.
I screamed my horror, and lashed out. Raw empathic power went slicing towards Kate. She raised one hand serenely, and I watched as she absorbed it into her. I felt dread slide up and down my spine. How could she do that? This was the essence of the universe the divine link that bound us all, and she had absorbed it up as if it was simply warmth from the sun!
I scanned Kate and gasped at what I saw. It wasn't the dark soul that was in control of her, but Simon. I now understood why my empathic power hadn't truly hurt her. Simon and Kate where now one, and that meant their powers were multiplied and shared. Empathy was a power that Simon and I both had.
"Bravo cousin, I couldn't have planned this better even if I had tried," Kate said, yet I heard Simon's inflections behind those words.
"Hello Simon, I went back into the past, I saw you plunging your hand into Kate's chest. I had assumed it was to punish her for her betrayal," I said.
Simon/Kate sneered at me. "Why would I waste such potential as my sister's body with an act of revenge? No, I wanted her free from Lucifvar's dark soul, because I needed this vessel. Haven't you figured out who will replace the body of my master you destroyed?"
My heart began pounding. I shook my head no. I could guess, but I didn't want to voice it in case I was right, and I didn't want to be right.
"Ah, so you want to play coy, James? Then behold the new vessel my master has become." Simon swept his hand up with a grand gesture, and my eyes were drawn to the picture that appeared in the air. I jolted, because it was the dream I had before I met Lucifvar. The two dreams of Kevin and Sam, and the statues of them in the thinking pose.
The only difference was that there were no pictures of Kevin being projected like a movie, only Sam. Instead of me beneath Sam, it was Simon. I watched as Sam rolled his body over and over atop Simon. I watched as wings ripped from Sam's shoulder blades and his lips locked onto the side of Simon's neck.
Intensity and ferocity lit Sam's features as he pounded Simon into the bed. Simon screamed his pleasure, and pushed ineffectually at Sam's sucking lips upon his neck. Sam became more aggressive and I watched as his hips jack-hammered until he was nothing more than a blur of flesh going in and out of Simon.
"This is the new vessel that holds my master's essence," Simon whispered in the air. The scene in front of him seemed to excite him, as I watched him fondle the body of his sister.
"No, that's not true," I said. I could feel my body shaking. I didn't realise tears were falling down my cheeks until I was looking through blurry eyes, and something moist dropped off my chin. I wouldn't believe that Sam was gone, not after seeing Grams shrivelled remains. Yet, they had gotten through my shields without me being aware of it. They had even gotten through Gram's guardians around the house. How was I, a mere child, going to defeat this? I closed my eyes, and sank down in defeat.
Something wasn't right, that small part of my power kept hinting. Yet, I wallowed in misery.
"That's right James," Simon whispered in my head. "Just give in."
The sixteen-year-old within me wanted to sit down and bawl that life wasn't fair. I wanted some one to hold me and protect me. I didn't want this responsibility. I wanted to be a normal sixteen year old. I felt tired and exhausted and wanted to rest. I sat on the floor and curled up in a ball.
"Get up!" a voice shouted at me.
Simon snarled and began generating a green glowing ball of energy. He sent it swirling into the air.
"Grandson, control your emotions, Simon is manipulating you!"
I stared at the dried up husk of Grams and gasped. The glowing green ball smashed into her talking corpse. I screamed as her body turned to dust.
Rage filled me, I let it rush through me clearing it of Simon's empathic influence and flushing him out. I couldn't afford that luxury again. Once done, I could control my own personal demons. I pushed the screaming side of me that wanted to go and hide in a dark corner until everything was back to the way it was, into a small room in my mind. That's how Simon had crept in, in the first place. I had allowed my own emotions to hold sway, and let Grams down a second time.
But, I wasn't going to waste these emotions, and began using them to help power up my abilities. I sensed my warrior on his way back to me with no sense of danger coming from the school anymore. He had used my telepathy to wipe the minds of the crowd that had seen him on stage.
"Not Kevin's mind" my warrior said. I frowned.
Any second I would have my full potential, and then there would be some ass kicking to do. I realised that without my warrior, I was far more shaky and unstable. He was my strength in not only the physical, but also as part of the strength of my inner core; My belief in myself. I hadn't realised how intrinsic he was to my entire foundation. I was surprised to realise that he was also intrinsic to my empathic skills by keeping out manipulating influences. It made sense why Kate/Simon had been able to emotionally influence me while my warrior was busy.
My warrior rushed into me like a runaway train. I gasped, and I felt more stable and certain within myself. I stood tall and stared at Simon with cool, calm. The bitch was back.
Ask any war veteran, about the men that have died around them, and they will say that sometimes it haunts their dreams, but with each man that dies, a part of them hardens, until it becomes a common thing to look at death and not allow it to phase them. They have a quiet spot that they go to in their heads. That was the mode I was in, as I stared at the possessed body of Kate.
Simon's lust crazed eyes shone out of her face. I may have lost Grams, and if I allowed my grief to hold sway, I might believe that Sam was now just a puppet, and others that I cared about would go the same way. I wouldn't let this monster free reign. I would use my emotions to fuel my vengeance.
Now that I had my warrior standing guard and ready within me, I shook my head at my own foolishness. I only had their say so that Sam had been taken over. I had buckled and fallen like a stack of cards, because they had shown me images of their own design.
I had been gullible, but that was enough self recriminations. My mind was thinking clearly again. I wouldn't fall for their tricks twice. I sent a probe out towards Sam. That would prove if their word was truth. In the meantime, I had some ass kicking to do.
Simon saw the change in me, and I watched as he lost his smug smile. I scanned him. His empathy was far more subtle than my own. He had proven that by getting past not only my empathic shields while I was unaware, but he had controlled me emotionally, however briefly.
In saying all of this, what I lacked in subtlety, I made up in raw strength. I could tap into depths, he could only imagine. Yet, I understood now, why he killed Grams off to become the next guardian. The same formidable energy that had been a part of Grams presence was now an aura around Simon. It made the depth of my empathy feel like a shallow puddle in comparison. I also understood, he now had the keys to the nether realms and at any second he could open the gates and unleash hell on earth.
My warrior growled and warned me to keep my head. I completed the scan in only seconds. I now knew what I was up against in regards to abilities. More importantly, I had learnt how he had manipulated me. My healing skills had taken note, while my empathy had adjusted to the teachings like a fish to water.
I was going to see if I could turn the tables. I knew that brute force would not be the answer. Simon had the power of the barrier within his grasp, and it was the antithesis to the life essence of the universe. In fact, it was anathema to my own power source. It was the reason why the barrier worked so well. On our side of the barrier, it was comprised of chaos energy, on the nether realm side; it was made of the life energy of our universe, therefore, anathema to those from the nether realms.
Hence the reason my power could disintegrate Lucifvar. It also stood to reason that only part of Kate, and Simon's essence had dark matter within them. The rest of their souls still had the force of the universe flowing through them. Explanation enough, why my power didn't destroy them completely, I only injured them, but Kate had the power to regenerate. How the energy of the darkness still lived, alongside the energy of the universal, inside Simon and Kate, was a mystery that I had no answer to.
However, I had an inkling that Simon got through Grams barrier because of his empathy, I just wasn't sure how. After all, if I could travel through the spirit realms to talk to mum, and call a `fairy beast' into our own world, then wasn't my empathy connected some how? I mean, they were going through a barrier of sorts, so there was a correlation.
However, it was my last conclusion that had me excited. I was basing the idea on whether my power source was related to getting through the barrier. I figured, it was why Grams feared me when she read my abilities. The more I thought about it, the more it felt right within me, and I was starting to trust my intuitive instincts more each day. Unfortunately, mum had never been able to pass through the barrier, and sadly, I couldn't access anything from her memories to help me.
But I had an ace if this next part of my scheme didn't work. After all, if I could call mum to me from the other side, I couldn't see why not call Grams. I just hoped that I had enough control not to call another fairy beast...
Simon attacked while I was gathering my thoughts together. I smiled inside, realising he hadn't sensed me scanning him. Fire and lightning shimmered across his fists as he came rushing towards me. I arched my eyebrow and shoved him back using telekinetic force. Behind my telekinetic push was an empathic energy ball. He flew against the wall, and plaster shattered with the impact. I held him restrained for enough time to let the energy ball hit him.
His scream of pain was music to my warrior's ears. And then, that god awful pressure began. I felt Simon draw on the power of the barrier. He pushed it against me, and I grunted. It felt like I was under tons of weight. My nose began to bleed and I could feel the warrior struggling to remain active.
Grams had done this to me before, pushing my abilities back into dormant stage. I couldn't afford that, it would leave me vulnerable and at Simon's mercy. I sank deep into myself. I saw my tree shuddering in an invisible wind as Simon kept the pressure up.
I sped into my tree and down to the roots. I pulled energy into me as fast and hard as I could. I could feel the energy that was normally easy to access, slowly trickling away. I had only one chance to do this. I sent a burst of empathy out, I called upon Grams and all of my ancestors who had been a guardian before me. I pushed my need and plea into every ounce of my fibre and transmitted it into the spirit realms.
I heard Simon growl, and suddenly I felt the energy fade from my grasp. I opened my eyes to see Simon's gloating face. No longer could I see any of Kate's features, Simon now had sole control. Yet, I had to try. "Kate, if there is any part of you left, fight him. You have always been the stronger one, your family needs you!"
I saw something shift in his eyes, and then Simon sneered and laughed. "That was pathetic James. She can't hear you." His face got a faraway look, before it turned into delight. "We have a visitor."
A puff of black dust and Sam stood beside Simon. They turned to each other and locked lips. I looked down refusing to see this. "You will look at me!" Simon said. I felt his empathy punch a hole into me. I bucked at the sensation. This time I wasn't going to let him control me like a puppet. I had a plan.
I latched onto his empathy and pushed it into the roots of my tree. Simon jolted, but I quickly absorbed his energy into me. I felt him trying to pull away, but I clung onto him like a leech. He screamed and raced towards me. My warrior came online, and he snarled a challenge back. This was my chance to see if I could turn the tables while he was distracted. I sucked hard on Simon's empathic energy and felt him scream his rage.
He brought the warrior, which was Kate's ability, on par and my heart pounded. He tried using the barrier, but that power was already in use, and I wasn't using my own power, but his, to fuel my tree. Therefore in a sense I was immune, and I was grateful. Sam attacked me at the same time and because I was hesitant in hurting him, he punched me and I was hurtled across the room. I crashed into the dinning table, and it broke under the impact. Pain lanced through me but I pulled on Simon's energy, and my healing bloomed. I couldn't properly heal, I didn't have enough time.
The warrior snarled inside my head, for allowing sentimentality to hurt me. This was not Sam, I had to believe that. I shoved a small amount of empathic energy into my hands. Sam came rushing towards me with Simon on his heels. I blurred and punched Sam with empathic energy. He screamed and turned into black dust. I felt numb, and I knew that shock would set in if I allowed it. The warrior snarled within me, and I grew calm once more.
Simon screamed, enraged until his eyes turned silver. He raised his hands and lightning slashed towards me. I pushed up a telekinetic shield and ran towards him. I needed to get closer to do what I was going to do. Simon's warrior mode was starting to turn berserk. He had given me that warning the very first time we spoke so very long ago. I was about to amp that berserker mode up using his own empathy as the draw card. Irony at its best.
I touched my hand against Simon and pushed the energy of rage and lust deep into him. He punched downwards towards my face, but I blocked the blow and nearly collapsed beneath him at the strength behind that punch. The tiles beneath my feet cracked, and I sank six inches into the ground. His eyes were no longer thinking, they were filled with battle lust, and that meant, with his strength, he could pick up a truck and throw it at 1000mph.
I looked at my warrior within and noted how he remained calm. I had never seen him in berserk mode and pondered this fact. But I didn't have time for speculation; there was something far more dangerous in the real world, ready to kill me. I sensed Simon trying to use his empathy to temper his berserker mode, but I pulled on his empathic power unrelenting. I was a budding master when it came to empathy. I wasn't budging.
Simon lost the fight to think rationally, and his warrior took over. I watched as Simon's face began to morph. His nose and mouth elongated until a muzzle appeared. He grew until he was nearly seven feet tall and hair sprouted all over his body. His clothes melted like acid down his body, and I was staring at two very big hairy ball sacks. His penis was not like an animals, but like a humans. It was weird to see them upon something that did not look remotely human. Cat eyes were staring at me, with the pointed ears, and tiger stripes running up and down his back.
His canines grew until they curved out of his mouth. He lunged and now that he wasn't thinking rationally, the barrier effects were slowly disappearing. I blurred and kept a firm hold on Simon's empathy. Even with my power slowly coming back, I wasn't so foolish as to give Simon an inch. I used him as my battery source and felt him weaken.
His warrior sensed the trap and did something unexpected. It tapped into the barrier and ripped it open. The nether realms were about to invade our world.