DISCLAIMER: All the characters appearing in Gargoyles are copyright Buena Vista Television/The Walt Disney Company. No infringement of these copyrights is intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder. All original characters are the property of the author.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
After A Millennium A Renewal:
She crouched motionless against the frozen ground, patiently waiting for her prey to step close enough for the quick kill. The night was still, not even the faintest hint of wind stirred the dead leaves still clinging to their branches. Her breath and that of her prey steamed white in the chill air with every breath. The light from the full moon had turned the glade into a sharply contrasting scene of silver light and blackness. The deer standing in the shadows stood almost immobile except for the nervous twitching of its tail and the flaring of its nostrils as it tried to determine what creature had invaded its normally safe existence.
Usually she considered deer elegant, graceful creatures, and she enjoyed watching them play in the mornings as they grazed on the lawn of her estate in upper New York. On the night of the full moon, however the animal nature inside her held sway over her human side and they were her prey. She had picked out one of the weaker, older deer that would probably not last the entire winter, as this moon's quarry. Stalking it, she had easily cut it off from the rest of the herd. Now it stood, terrified and indecisive, uncertain of where to run, then suddenly tried to leap past her. She sprang from her crouch and slapped its head with her paw, crushing the animal's skull with the blow. Ripping open the hind flank of the animal, she settled down to consume her meal, keeping a careful watch on her surroundings as she fed.
She enjoyed these nights of the full moon. She knew that she perhaps shouldn't enjoy them as much as she did, but all her human cares and worries were set aside on this night and only her prey and the exhilaration of the hunt concerned her. It wasn't as if she couldn't change any time she desired, but the nights of the full moon were different, on these nights she felt closest to the cat spirit that lived inside her. On these nights, it did not pain her to change her form; instead, it was a pure, sensual pleasure to slide into the jaguar shape.
She finished eating what she wanted off the deer carcass, and sauntered through the forest toward the river for a swim. She loved swimming, it one of the better things about being a were-jaguar instead of another type of cat, and it had the useful side effect of cleaning her coat of any blood from her prey. She moved through the water powerfully enjoying the feel of the cold water and occasionally ducking her head playfully under the water.
Finally tiring of her play, she decided to head towards the shore. Once there she shook herself dry and headed back to her estate house. The housekeeper and grounds keeper that cared for the house were gone for the evening and she sauntered through the open patio doors on the west side of the house and into her room. She barely spared a glance at the room's carefully designed elegance. Antique cherry furnishings and a monstrously huge four-poster bed sat against antique ivory colored walls. The room itself was spacious, even with the presence of the bed, with plenty of space for her to move about in her cat form.
She glanced at herself in the hanging mirror, admiring for a moment her blocky strong jawed head and muzzle, muscular deep chest, stocky body, deep black coat and thick tail. She was larger and heavier than a natural jaguar by over one hundred pounds and was taller as well at thirty-six inches instead of twenty-seven inches tall.
She concentrated on changing back to her human form, shrinking in mass as she did so and focusing on not crying out from the pain this caused her. Once she had recovered from the process, she stood up and looked in the mirror to see that everything was where it should be. She was slightly taller than average for a woman at five foot ten inches, with light olive skin, black hair and sapphire blue eyes. She was very muscular, both from her jaguar nature and from the hours of martial arts and athletics she enjoyed.
Reassured that everything about her body was in its proper place, she studied her face with a quick intent gaze. Her features attracted many admiring looks from both men and women. Her eyes were her most admired feature, their gemlike clarity of color garnering her many complements. Her strength and determination were revealed in the strong lines of her face, a square angular jaw line and chin, and straight nose. Full lips and a graceful long neck completed the picture, adding a feminine and sensual touch to her face. She was Kendra Canmore, daughter of Robert Canmore and Maria De Santos.
She had not always been a were-jaguar, when she was fifteen she and her parents had gone exploring Mayan ruins in Brazil after visiting her mother's parents. Separated from her parents in the ruins, the young girl had come across a hurt jaguar trapped in one of the rooms. The animal was unable to stand on its own, and watched her intently and without any apparent fear or hostility as she examined it. She looked around the room the jaguar had fallen into for a way to free the animal, and decided that if she could move some of the fallen masonry sections she could free the beautiful animal.
She climbed carefully down into the room, staying away from the hurt animal, and began to work on clearing the fallen rubble. She had not been paying attention to the trapped cat as she worked, and was surprised when the animal rubbed up against her side, apparently having freed itself. She turned slowly and looked unblinkingly into the animal's eyes, telling herself to betray no fear, though she was not really afraid of the animal for some unknown reason. It was one of the largest black jaguars she had seen, she found the animal's strength and presence impressive and its green eyes compelling, as she slipped into unconsciousness.
When she came to her clothing was bloody, but she could find no wounds on herself. Puzzled, she looked around for the handsome animal but could not find any trace of it. She had climbed back out of the room and found her family afterwards, telling them the blood was from a hurt deer she had found and freed. Her parents would panic and start yelling at her if she told them the animal had actually been a jaguar. That was something the teenager was not eager to experience, so she kept that particular detail to herself.
One year after the incident with the trapped jaguar, Kendra's father was killed and her mother severely injured in a car accident. Maria Canmore left the hospital after several weeks, but the accident left Kendra's mother with permanent spinal injuries and she would never walk again.
A few months after the accident Kendra began dreaming of being a jaguar, of her body changing, stretching, fitting into the shape of the cat she had believed she was rescuing. On the night of the full moon, exactly year later from when the dreams began, she transformed into a jaguar for real. The first time the transformation happened was very frightening and confusing for the young woman despite the dreams that had prepared her for the process. The following full moon was as exhilarating as frightening, and by the third full moon the transformation had barely frightened her at all. Even with her fears about what was happening to her and the questions she had about why and how she transformed, Kendra kept silent. She told no one, not even her mother, and due to her mother's injuries, it had not been difficult for her to hide the fact that she was changing into a jaguar every full moon.
Five years ago, her mother had followed her husband into death, leaving their only daughter significant shares in several businesses, a considerable fortune and an estate in upper New York as well as a large loft condo in Manhattan.
All in all, she enjoyed her life more now than before meeting the jaguar. She was much stronger and quicker after the transformations began than before, and had learned, after a few startled looks from her class mates and teachers in high school, to be careful to not bring undue attention to herself by displaying her higher than normal strength and quickness. Her body now healed at an increased rate. Fortunately, nothing had happened to her to bring it to anyone's attention exactly how fast she healed. She didn't know what she would do if she were ever injured badly enough to require hospitalization. The doctors would notice immediately that something was very different about her, no normal human healed as fast as she did.
She had been dealing with the changes for ten years, and was twenty-seven now; over the years, she had learned how to control the changes so that she changed only when she chose to do so. Now it didn't matter if it were day or night, or whether or not the moon was full. It was fortunate for her that she had learned how to do so for seven years ago, while she was visiting the loft in Manhattan, four men had attacked her in Central Park. Finding herself unable to fight them all off in human form, she had changed into her jaguar form and killed them.
Because of that night Kendra started martial arts classes, determined to be able to protect herself no matter what form she was in. Now, seven years later, she was an accomplished martial artist, having taken too unarmed fighting like a duck to water. Her martial arts teacher had commented more than once about how easily she seemed to learn the skills.
Her visual double-check that she did every time she changed shape complete, Kendra dressed and pulled out a suitcase to pack for her trip to Manhattan. While there, she planned to visit her cousin Jason who had been paralyzed in a mysterious accident over a year ago. He was very reticent about the cause of his condition during their phone call, and she suspected it had something to do with his family's obsession with gargoyles.
Kendra's father had always said that his brother Charles' choice to continue the Canmore obsession with hunting gargoyles would result in nothing but grief and it had not surprised her father that one had taken exception to being hunted one night and had tossed his brother off the side of a very tall building. Compound the tragedy was the fact that Charles had taken his children to watch and they witnessed their father's death.
Her uncle's children, Jason, Jon, and Robyn Canmore, had all vowed to hunt down and kill the gargoyle that had killed their father. They asked Robert for his help, but her father had refused. He was sorry about what had happened to his brother, but he would not kill a creature for defending itself. Kendra's cousin's had been shocked and angered by the refusal and all conversation between the two families had ceased, at least until last week when Jason had called and asked her to come and visit him at his new apartment in the city.
Kendra left for Manhattan the next morning, the moon was just beginning to wane and she knew she would not feel the overwhelming urge to change for another three weeks. Besides, she was curious about all the gargoyle stories she had been hearing on the news from Manhattan. Kendra doubted the gargoyles were the demons the Canmore's made them out to be, but other than that, she felt she really knew very little about them.
Oh, she knew the history behind, and the reason's the Canmore's claimed for their brutal vendetta against the gargoyles. She had read a few of the journals written by Canmore hunters, journals where they kept their tally of the number gargoyles they had found and killed. She had been horrified at how the hunters boastingly wrote about how many hatchlings and eggs they had destroyed. As a young teenager, she had wondered if the hunters had committed murder and infanticide, but in the end, the young Kendra decided it didn't really matter to her if the gargoyles were intelligent or not. The fact that the hunters had killed helpless babies was enough to convince her that the hunters were demons not the gargoyles they boasted about killing, and she was all the more proud of her father for rejecting his father and brother's beliefs.
The family histories included surprisingly little about what the gargoyles were other than calling them demons. They included lots of information about how to find and kill them, but little to nothing about basic things like what they ate, what their social structure was, or even how long they lived. She knew that they could speak and turned to stone during the day but that was about the extent of her actual knowledge of gargoyles. She had no idea exactly how intelligent the gargoyles were, the fact that they could speak indicated a high level of intelligence. Perhaps she would get the chance to see one in the city and look into his or her eyes and find the answers to some of her questions.
She enjoyed the ride down to Manhattan in her black Jaguar convertible; really, she couldn't possibly have bought any other type of automobile, and she always smirked just a little bit in amusement every time she slid behind the wheel. She stopped by the loft condo and dropped off her suitcase before continuing to Jason's apartment.
Her cousin answered her knock in a wheelchair and invited her inside exclaiming, "Kendra, you did decide to come!"
To Kendra's surprise, there was another person in Jason's apartment. Staring out the barred patio door was a woman with long dark hair. Kendra had a brief moment to admire the woman's trim feminine figure before the woman turned around to stare at her curiously. Kendra smiled thinking that the woman was a nice to look at from the front as the rear. Jason definitely had good taste.
Jason introduced them, "Eliza Maza, meet my first cousin Kendra Canmore. Kendra, Eliza is a detective with the 23rd Precinct in Manhattan."
Kendra nodded politely to the detective in response to the woman's greeting, "Nice to meet you." She raised a curious eyebrow at her cousin, wondering how he knew a police detective.
"I met her while pretending to be a newly transferred detective. She was assigned as my partner. She's been nice enough to come by and visit every week," Jason answered the silent question.
Kendra glanced over at the detective, she wanted to ask if her cousin had gotten hurt hunting gargoyles, but she didn't want to bring up the subject with the detective there. "How are you doing?" she asked instead. As fine as the woman looked, right now Kendra really wished she wasn't present.
Jason stared at her for a second, "Fine," he answered slowly following her gaze. "She knows," he sighed, "she knows about the gargoyles and about our family's history with them."
"Your families," Kendra corrected immediately, and then regretted it when her cousin flinched.
Jason grimaced, "Right, my families," he agreed and she thought she detected an overtone of regret in his voice.
She sighed, "Sorry, I shouldn't have brought it up. So how did you get hurt, a gargoyle?"
"No, actually I saved ones life by stepping between Jon and it. Jon shot me by accident," he answered.
Kendra straightened up surprised, "Ok, now I'm really curious. I never thought I'd hear you say that you saved a gargoyle in my wildest imagings."
Kendra listened intently to Jason's story interrupting him to clarify some points. As he continued, she became more and more puzzled over the Demona that he spoke about so frequently, and what connection a gargoyle could possibly have with Nightstone Unlimited, which she knew was owned by Dominique Destine. Finally, feeling that she was missing a vital piece of information, she asked, "How did a gargoyle manage to direct such a research effort? What connection does this Demona have with Nightstone?"
Jason paused, hesitant. She waited as still and patiently as she had waited last night for her prey to approach knowing that he would eventually decide answer her questions. Finally he began speaking again, nervously revealing that this particular gargoyle used sorcery to turn herself into Dominique Destine during the day. Kendra was fairly certain that only a slight widening of her eyes possibly betrayed her surprise at this information, she knew about the woman from business dealings with Nightstone in the past.
"Let's say for now that I believe that sorcery can change and woman into a gargoyle and vice versa," Kendra smirked, letting Jason assume that she didn't really believe that such a thing was possible, when, of course, given her own reality, she did believe him. "It at least explains how she was able to get the resources to develop such a virus. So go on," she prompted him to continue.
Detective Maza had sat down in a chair earlier and was listening intently to Jason's tale; at this comment, she glanced sharply in Kendra's direction and regarded her suspiciously. Kendra returned the stare with a smirk, and then followed it with a slow, appreciative sweep of the detective's body. A flush of color in the woman's cheeks and a narrow eyed glare rewarded her, she smoothly turned her attention back to her cousin as if her appreciative examination had never happened knowing that was likely to provoke the detective even more.
Jason, who had evidently not noticed a thing, was busy describing how he had saved the leader of the Manhattan gargoyle clan, Goliath, from being shot by Jason, and how Goliath had ruined Demona's enchantment that would have spared the gargoyles from a general plague to wipe out all intelligent life. Demona had tossed the canister containing the plague virus in the air and had gotten away as Goliath had scrambled to catch it before it broke on the floor.
Kendra noticed how tense Elisa became every time Jason spoke of the other gargoyles besides Demona. It was not something Jason noticed, and Kendra doubted most humans would notice but her predator senses had alerted on the small signs of nervousness. She filed it away for further consideration along with Elisa's silence during the story and merely nodded. She asked Jason, "So you and Robyn are done with this nonsense?"
Elisa looked surprised at her statement, but Jason simply nodded, "I am at least; Robyn is in jail serving a ten year sentence for various charges her first chance at parole comes up in two years. I would be in jail as well but they aren't going to press charges given my injury."
Kendra asked, "And Jon? What's he up to?"
Jason grimaced, "Jon blames the gargoyles for this instead of himself and has started a group called the Quarrymen to destroy the gargoyles."
Kendra rolled her eyes in annoyance; she had begun to hope that Jason would say they had all given up their continuation of the Canmore's vendetta against the gargoyles. From what her father had told her, and from her own brief chance to read Duncan's own journal, she knew that Duncan the First's had been a ruthless and unprincipled king. Duncan had only begun hunting gargoyles because a clan of them were allied with Macbeth and he wanted them killed before beginning his attack. Duncan had died to the gargoyle clan's female leader while attacking Macbeth's castle, and later when Canmore became king after defeating Macbeth, he had begun hunting that particular gargoyle along with any other seeking revenge for his father's death.
Her thoughts reminded her of something she had just heard Jason say. She frowned confused, "You really believe this Demona is the same gargoyle that first Duncan, and then Canmore, fought? But that would make her around a thousand years old." She stared incredulous at Jason wondering how he was going to explain that.
Jason winced, "Goliath said that she was probably the same person, she's immortal."
Kendra stared at him silently, absorbing the implications, and then nodded. Jason looked tired and she noticed that Eliza was looking at her watch. Kendra commented, "Well I need to go get something to eat, and Eliza looks like she needs to be going somewhere. I will come back and see you tomorrow Jason."
With that, she gave him a light hug, gave the detective a purposefully friendly non-sexual smile to confuse the woman even more, and exited Jason's apartment building with a light step. Walking over to her Jaguar, she noticed the dark-haired detective watching her and saw the envious look at her car. Smiling, she chuckled and pulled out of the parking lot, she had passed by a steak house on her way here. A huge porterhouse sounded real good right now, her stomach had been growling at her for the past hour.
Red wine and steak what a wonderful combination, Kendra sighed in contentment finally full. Pondering everything Jason had told her, the entire tale made less and less sense to Kendra.
Dominique Destine, sole owner of Nightstone Unlimited, was well known to Kendra, she had business dealings with the woman's company in the past. The woman was a shrewd businesswoman. She was not the type to make a mistake like making permanent record of your plan to exterminate the human race, and then leave it in plain sight in the company safe. Moreover, it wasn't as if the plan Jason had described was complicated, go here at this time, do this spell, then release the virus, hardly any need for the disk at all. Who took a newly hired personal assistant down to show off their plan to exterminate the human race, or at least part of that plan, on the first week at work anyway? Kendra thought with a smirk.
Then there was the fact that Robyn and Jon had been lucky that the gargoyle hadn't actually killed them the night before. Kendra certainly would have never walked off without making sure that 'dead' enemies were definitely dead. Something like snapping their necks or crushing their skulls would have been her preferred method of ensuring dead was dead. She would have thought that Demona at least would have checked to make sure of the same, that she hadn't spoke of a sloppiness that just didn't fit with what she knew of Dominique Destine.
Then there was the simple fact that Demona's virus, in the manner that the gargoyle planned to release it, would never have succeeded in infecting many people at all. One container of a biological agent released within a building where the people infected were all aware of the infection had no hope of achieving the stated goal of a world-wide plague, no hope at all. As soon as the city knew a biological agent had been released, and there was no doubt in her mind that Detective Maza would have immediately informed them, Hazmat units would have sealed the immediate area around the building. The CDC would have quarantined everyone within the building, and the so-called plague would have ended rather quickly, though perhaps unfortunately, for those quarantined. It certainly would have never even been given the chance to spread to the general city population.
Nothing that Jason had told her fit with the Dominique Destine that she knew, that woman was a perfectionist. A year ago, Dominique had tried to take over one of the businesses Kendra was a shareholder of, she and the other shareholders had been forced to fight off a carefully orchestrated take-over. Even while Kendra had been combating Dominique's well laid plans to drop the company's stock valuation in preparation for a buy out offer, she had admired the elegance of those plans. Only equal parts skill and luck allowed Kendra and the other stockholders to keep the companies share valuation from dropping. Dominique Destine had never even made the buy out offer once she saw her plans fail.
Maybe she wasn't as intelligent in gargoyle form as she was in human form? Kendra thought back to what she had heard from her business partners of negotiations that Ms. Destine had conducted late at night over the phone. Mulling over the gossip she had heard Kendra quickly discarded the idea that Demona wasn't as intelligent as Dominique, though it certainly would explain why the woman absolutely refused to hold any nighttime meetings.
Which left some burning questions, why would the gargoyle have made that incriminating disk in the first place, why let Robyn, the new hire, see any part of her plans, and why the quite frankly, stupid, method of releasing the virus? Kendra needed to find out more information about Demona to formulate a sound idea. Now if only she could figure out how to go about finding the information she wanted.
Kendra had been interested in meeting the canny Dominique Destine ever since that take over attempt. The woman's voice had been intriguing during various business conference calls she had participated in as a board member. Though Kendra had never meet the woman in person, she had managed to obtain several pictures of Dominique and had been pleased to find that she was as beautiful as Kendra had thought she would be. Maybe this puzzle solving would lead to meeting the intriguing Ms. Destine. Kendra's curiosity was roused now and there was nothing like a good puzzle to keep the attention of a cat.
Kendra paid her bill and wandered out of the restaurant, glancing at a newspaper stand idly as she walked by. The headline had her stopping abruptly in front of it, "Quarryman rally". She pulled out some change and bought the paper curious to see what her cousin was up to now. He was going by the name of John Castaway, she noted reading the article, and he would be at the Quarrymen rally that was taking place in two hours at Central Park. Kendra made a quick decision; she would go watch the rally. Chances were she would be able to talk to Jon and perhaps get some more information about the gargoyles from him.
She returned to her apartment and changed into her bike outfit, which consisted of thick insulated and armored black leather pants, a black turtleneck, black leather armored jacket, and black leather boots. Braiding her hair so that it would fit neatly into her helmet, she went down to the small garage area; besides the Jaguar, she had two Aprilia motorbikes stored here. They were the same models that she had at the estate because she didn't like riding motorbikes between her two residences in the winter. She decided would ride the RSV Mille tonight; it was a single seated sports bike, the other Aprilia, a Futura model, was more of a touring bike and had two seats. She admired for a moment the angular aggressive lines of both bikes; they looked like something Batman would ride, with a triangular body design that made for a very unique look.
She removed her helmet and after checking to make sure the radio was working, started an Enigma CD. She started up the bike and headed out the garage toward Central Park. It was not hard to spot the rally when she got there. She found a spot to park her bike under a street lamp and engaged the bike's anti-theft system then proceeded on foot to a spot that she could overlook and overhear the rally.
Her cousin was there shouting out about how the gargoyles were stealing children, how they were threats to decent humans everywhere. Kendra's eyes narrowed in anger, and she shook her head at the old tired routine, witches, Jews, homosexuals and now gargoyles. The same old lies were trotted out as justification for every round of discrimination and violence against each new target. It was sad that Jon couldn't come up with anything new and original. Then she caught the new twist to the baby stealing, the gargoyles were going to turn human babies into gargoyles. She was puzzled about why he would make such a statement, but had to give him points for pseudo originality though the same accusations had pretty much been made against gays for years. Unless he was implying they would be turned into were-gargoyles. That actually sounded rather interesting to her, it would be cool to have wings and be able to fly.
Jon finally wound down and she worked her way over toward him and took off her bike helmet. He immediately recognized her and with a shocked and hopeful look and shook off his admirers long enough to come over and ask her what she was doing in Manhattan.
"I came to see Jason, I read about this meeting and decided to see what you were up to," Kendra replied with studied casualness. She wanted him to think she was only slightly interested in what he had to say, in the past that had always incited him to try and get her interested in what he was doing. Just as she had hoped, Jon started talking excitedly about his plans to exterminate the gargoyles once and for all, and about how he thought that Xantos was protecting several of the demons. She nodded focusing more on what he was saying and letting more of her interest show, encouraging him to continue talking.
When he finally seemed to be winding down she asked in a low tone, "I want more information about this Demona that Jason mentioned, could you send me an email with what you have?" she asked Jon with a smile. He agreed readily and asked her if she had changed her mind after hearing the Demons plans. Kendra shrugged carelessly, "Let's say I'm interested in finding out more about these gargoyles, I'll decide if I'm interested in your hunt after getting more information about this Demona."
Jon looked pleased, apparently certain that the information would persuade her to join his cause.
After excusing herself, Kendra backed away, letting the Quarrymen nearby regain her cousin's attention. She walked toward the park entrance noticing as she did so that Detective Eliza Maza was standing there with a few other officers watching the rally and watching her in particular. Kendra had already decided that she had no chance with Eliza the woman was definitely straight. Still, there was no reason she couldn't tease the woman some more since Detective Maza's attention she so obviously focused on her at the moment.
She smirked and made her way over toward the Eliza, "Fancy meeting you here Detective, checking up on my cousin as well I see."
Eliza stared at her with searching intentness, "Is that what you are doing? Checking up on him?" she asked.
Kendra smiled at the woman smugly, "Jon likes talk, what he talks about I find interesting." She turned and looked over her shoulder at the remaining Quarrymen for a few moments before looking back to the Detective. She added as if it were an afterthought, "I suspect you know more about these gargoyles than you let on as well." Kendra paused for a moment to let the other woman's tension increase before continuing to tease her, "You tense up just slightly whenever they are mentioned. You need to work on concealing your emotions better if you are trying to hide something." With that, she smirked at the now glaring Eliza Maza and sauntered off towards the lake.
Baiting the Detective was going to be lots of fun, the woman actually had very good control over her emotions, if it weren't for Kendra's jaguar senses she would never have noticed the slight reactions. Eliza was probably nervous now about how much Kendra knew, and what exactly she was up to. Kendra found it amusing to think of how focused the detective was on her, even if there wasn't a chance of Eliza being interested in her in the way Kendra would appreciate.
Kendra waited patiently listening to Eliza and her partner who Eliza called Matt discussed the difficulties the Quarrymen were causing concerning gargoyle human relations. The two had no idea they were being overheard, Kendra's hearing was very acute even as a human and she was crouched flat along the ground behind a log at least 100 feet away from where they were standing talking together.
Eliza paused and looked around and said in a low voice, "Goliath is really getting depressed about it not being safe for them to patrol, you know how they need to help people. It's been months now and they still can't go out and without fear of being attacked. I know they go out a patrol occasionally anyway, but it's really dangerous for them."
She stopped talking and looked saddened; her partner put a reassuring hand on her arm, "I'm sure the truth about the Quarrymen will be revealed somehow, I don't understand why people believe all these lies."
Bitterly Eliza growled, "Maybe if Demona would stop trying to kill of the human race they would. I can't believe she claims to be trying to save gargoyles when she's single-handily done more to ensure their extinction than anyone else, if it weren't for her these Quarrymen would have never existed."
Matt sighed, "Don't be so bitter around Angela, she's has enough trouble listening to everyone else especially Brooklyn blaming her mother for everything that's wrong."
Eliza nodded, "I try not to, I see how it hurts her, but I wish she would just realize that her mother is truly evil before Demona hurts her even more."
Obviously changing the subject Matt asked, "What's up with Kendra Canmore and the comment she made?"
Eliza sighed, "I think she's just baiting me to get me to react, Jason said something about her enjoying rattling people, and from the way she acted right now and when I saw her earlier in the day it certainly fits." Eliza continued, "He seems pretty certain that she's not interested in the feud at all. She does however; seem to be interested in Demona." Eliza turned toward her partner and dropped her voice further, "She really got interested when Jason told her that Demona was Dominique Destine, seems as if they have had business dealings in the past so Kendra knows of Dominique. What she intends on doing with the information though," the detective shrugged. She glanced at the watch on her wrist, "It's time for our shift to end, let's get back to the station house." With that statement, Eliza and her partner got in their unmarked car and drove off.
Kendra was not that curious about where they were going, she had heard quite enough to make her to want to go to her apartment to see if Jon had sent the information she requested. She wondered if he had any idea that Demona had a daughter, she certainly would not tell him if he didn't, but it certainly was an interesting piece of information.
She scanned the area intently; watching and listening carefully for any indication there was anyone about, then when she was certain she was alone, she rose and walked to her motorcycle. When she arrived at her apartment, the first thing she did was check her email. She smiled in satisfaction at seeing the waiting file in her inbox. Jon had already sent the information she desired, including several pictures of both Demona and Dominique Destine. Dominique Destine she was familiar with, looking at the same face in blue on a gargoyle was intriguing to say the least.
Kendra had been interested in the sleek, haughty and hot-tempered business executive ever since the buy out skirmish; the woman was powerful, beautiful and mysterious. Now she had another reason to be interested in the woman, but how was she going to get close enough to understand Demona? The file contained some historical information, mostly tales of how they had destroyed any gargoyles in stone form they had come across and tales of how the gargoyle named Demona had escaped them time and time again. A lot of the information was already familiar to her, her father had told her about the Canmore families past.
There was not much more information about Demona until Jason, Jon and Robyn had witnessed their father being thrown off the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. The file then repeated what Jason had already told her about Demona being Dominique Destine. A copy of the file Robyn had found was included, and Kendra watched intently as Demona described her plans for destroying the human race and using the Praying Gargoyle to protect herself, her daughter and the surviving gargoyles. The statistical specs at the end were a perfect touch, leaving the one fact that hung glaring in front of her. Demona had certainly not needed to make any such disk for herself, and she certainly should not have brought the company's newest hire down to the lab and opened the safe and displayed everything within it with Robyn there. It just didn't make any sense at all.
However, it now looked like there had been a chance that the virus would have been much deadlier Kendra initially thought. She didn't know whether or not sorcery could have magically spread the virus as Demona had claimed, she didn't even know whether the mix of the carrier agent and cleanser would have actually worked. Scientifically speaking it shouldn't have done anything, but mixed with sorcery? She really didn't know. Demona's reasoning seemed to have been that humanity was a germ that needed to be disinfected from the earth.
Kendra sat back in her chair frowning; there were several things wrong with the entire scenario. Her gaze went to the apartment's kitchen, and she stared at the cabinet doors below the sink. If the gargoyle had just needed a disinfectant why go through the trouble of getting an experimental one? Why not just use a common disinfectant like Lysol or bleach, certainly bleach should have sufficed, it was after all the most commonly used laboratory disinfectant and would kill or denature almost all bacteria and viruses. For that matter why use a disinfectant at all? That part had her completely confused; if the second agent had been a pathogen instead of a disinfectant everything would make so much more sense.
Finally, Kendra shook her head in annoyance. She simply didn't have enough information to judge whether the Demona's plan had any hope of succeeding. Nor was there any information in Jon's file to indicate whether the canister had actually carried an infectious agent or just an uncommonly strong disinfectant bound to a carrier virus that presented little danger to humanity.
The last attached file contained pictures of the other gargoyles in Manhattan. She memorized each and noted what they were doing, a truly huge pale lavender male held and older grizzled male in his arms prepared to leap to safety from the ruins of the clock tower above the police station. From Jason's story, she knew that Robyn had been the one to fire the missiles at an occupied building. Robyn was damn lucky she wasn't up for second-degree murder for that idiocy. A reddish male with a beaked mouth held a smaller greenish male in his arms ready to leap to safety. Next to the reddish male was an overweight blue male that held what looked like some type of gargoyle dog in his arms. Standing behind the two males was a delicate feminine form.
She used her graphical software to enhance the image and stared at the female gargoyle. She was darker shade of lavender than Goliath, and Kendra suspected she must be looking at Demona's daughter, the one the detective had called Angela. Jason had almost killed her, for which at least he had looked properly ashamed at his apartment when he told her earlier. Goliath seemed to fit the huge light lavender male.
Finally, she shrugged and decided to get some sleep; she had a few weeks until she needed to go back to her estate. She needed to figure out the best way to find out more about the gargoyles and Demona in particular. The files had made it obvious that she needed to be careful, Demona certainly didn't like humans, and to top it off Kendra was a Canmore. Still, the gargoyle had never killed a Canmore that wasn't actively hunting her, that at least was something in Kendra's favor.
The next morning she started calling certain business partners of hers to let them know she wanted information about investment opportunities at Nightstone Unlimited. She had always kept up with what Dominique was doing, both out of personal curiosity and out of a desire to protect her business investments. She had done so quietly in the past, not wanting Dominique to be aware of her interest. Kendra grinned to herself after the last phone call, this information gathering was anything but quiet, and it would probably only be a few hours before Dominique Destine was aware that Kendra Canmore was inquiring about investment opportunities at Nightstone.
It did not take long for the information to start arriving in her email, and Kendra spent most of the morning perusing the various investment opportunities available to her at Nightstone. Dominique Destine had a shrewd sense of business and there were several areas that Kendra felt comfortable that she would make a tidy profit by investing some of her money in Nightstone. She sat back and decided to wait a day before seeing if she could arrange a meeting with Dominique Destine, she wanted to make sure that the news got around to her that a Canmore was interested in investing in her company.
In the meantime, she needed something to do this morning. She decided to go practice at the dojo she visited when in Manhattan. They had a Kendo teacher at there and she always took advantage of the chance to improve her sword techniques while he was teaching. She picked up her skates and chose clothing that she could skate in later, and then went to visit her cousin Jason. He had heard she had gone to see Jon and she readily acknowledged it, "He was very helpful in sending me some information I wanted."
Jason looked at her suspiciously, "I don't know what you're up to Kendra but be careful, Jon's dangerous these days and Demona will kill you if she finds out your searching for information on her."
"I know just as much Canmore history as you do Jason, so I rather doubt that," Kendra commented coolly. "Even with all the reasons our family has given her over the years to hate us she's never went after any Canmore that wasn't actively hunting her at the time, providing of course that your right about her having lived for the past thousand years."
Jason opened his mouth and she could tell by the look on his face he was getting ready to disagree with her rather loudly, then a strange expression ghosted across his features and he fell silent.
Kendra nodded, "Can't think of one can you. That's because there never has been one case of her coming after us. It's always been us that initiated the violence Jason, and I'm planning on being very open and peaceful about my intentions."
He tried to persuade her for the next thirty minutes that Demona was much too dangerous for her to attract even the least bit of the gargoyle's attention. Kendra finally managed to leave after reassuring him she would seriously consider what he had said, but she really wanted to go figure skating at the Rockefeller Center tonight. She never mentioned that after her morning phone calls she was certain that Demona was already quite aware of her interest.
It was night by the time she arrived at the Rockefeller Center; she looked at the few skaters on the ice and frowned. She hated trying to skate when it was crowded. Hopefully the ice would free up and she would be able to do a few jumps and flying spins. She started out doing a few basic turns and glides to loosen up then began working on her spins, she was used to ignoring the stares of the other skaters, so it took her a moment to realize that someone not in the rink was watching her. She surveyed the area trying to determine whose gaze disturbed her and was unsurprised to see Detective Maza watching her with a narrow-eyed, suspicious gaze. The woman's partner stood beside her, watching in a much friendlier manner. Jason had most likely told the detective where she would be tonight and the woman was probably making sure she wasn't stalking any gargoyles. She smirked at the thought, she didn't need to go searching for them as she was certain she had seen one flying above the rink earlier.
After about an hour, the rink was beginning to clear out and Kendra took the opportunity to do some of the sit and camel spins that took more room to safely perform. By nine' clock there were only a few skaters remaining upon the ice and Kendra felt she had enough room to practice some jumps. She loved jumping, her inner jaguar gave her an edge in maintaining her balance and she knew that she was very graceful on the ice. When she started doing single and double practice jumps, several of the skaters moved over to the side and watched. She wished she had the rink to herself so that she could really show off but there were still ten or so people skating and she didn't want to risk hurting anyone.
Fifteen minutes before the ice rink was due to close, the few skaters left came over and asked if she would like the ice to herself for the rest of the time. She smiled and thanked them for their courtesy, then waited while they cleared off the ice to the edge. Having plenty of room she decided to show off and go through one of the routines she did at home on the frozen lake on the estate.
Eliza and Matt had been surprised to see that Kendra was still on the ice when they patrolled past that way again. They stopped to watch as the other skaters cleared the ice leaving Kendra on it alone. Then when she began skating using the entire surface of the ice, they both watched awed as she went through what was obviously a practiced routine.
Matt gasped once when she completed a particularly difficult set of jumps and Eliza stared at him as he whispered "She's doing stuff that only the men usually do, good grief she must have some strong legs to manage to do triple axles." Eliza turned to stare at Jason's cousin only seeing that the woman made figure skating look elegant and easy. She shook her head wryly at her partner, not blaming him for his open interest in the woman skating. Not only was Kendra Canmore beautiful, but she was strong and graceful as well, she made Eliza feel almost plain in comparison, not something the detective was not used to at all.
Knowing that the rink was about to close, Kendra thanked those watching for their applause as soon as she finished. She changed back into her bike boots and rode her bike back toward her apartment, before pulling into the garage she paused for a moment and examined the building and the buildings around it carefully. Considering it was nighttime she wasn't taking any chances of and angry gargoyle or anyone else surprising her.
She had spotted a man following her earlier and after cutting off the lights in her apartment, she crept out on the balcony to see if he was still about. It wasn't hard for her to spot him; he was smoking and talking into a cell phone. Idly she wondered whether he was with Jon or with Demona, before going back inside to reviewing her investment plans for her meeting tomorrow at Nightstone.
Demona had indeed heard of the introduction of a new Canmore onto the scene, and of her interest in her company. Kendra Canmore had certainly not attempted to hide her information gathering; rather she seemed to be trying to make sure Dominique would be aware of it. The surveillance tail that she had put on the woman shortly after noon followed her from a dojo to Jason Canmore's apartment and then to Rockefeller Plaza where the woman had figure skated several hours before finally returning home.
It was midnight before Demona's surveillance operative had his initial report ready for delivery. He dropped off the photo's and information he had gathered with the comment that Kendra Canmore was "one fine looking woman" to which she had just snarled through the intercom at him that she was not interested in how attractive he found Canmore. She was curious though after that to see what she looked like; he had never made a comment like that before about anyone else that she had sent him to follow.
The photo on top of the report when she opened it was a close up of Kendra Canmore. Demona was surprised at how different in appearance the woman was from what she had expected. She looked for the information on the human's parents and noted the Brazilian mother. That accounted for the unusually dark skin tone. The sapphire blue eyes were unusual as well, as the Canmore's usually ran to grey or grey-blue eyes from what she remembered. She stared at the picture once again; Kendra Canmore was definitely exotic looking with her dusky olive skin and handsome face.
She flipped through the other pictures and paused to admire a few of Kendra practicing at the dojo. It was difficult to tell from pictures how skilled the human was at martial arts, but she suspected this Canmore was just as skilled at fighting as her other clan members. Next came photo's of Kendra figure skating and though Demona did not know much about the sport she was able to tell from the pictures that this was yet another thing that this Canmore excelled in doing. She picked up the report on Kendra Canmore's history and noted that she had been approached in high school about becoming a member of the U.S. Olympic team for not only figure skating but gymnastics as well, but had turned them down saying that she wanted to enjoy her sports, not have them become work.
The report also included pictures of various women. Demona was puzzled by the inclusion of these pictures until she read the report with them. Rumor had it these women had been romantically involved with Kendra Canmore. Demona glanced, startled, at the pictures of the women again. They were strikingly alike in one way; almost all of the women had variations of red hair. Surely the human wasn't She picked up the close up of Kendra Canmore and scowled at it, "What are you playing at human?" she asked it.
After a moment, she threw down the picture and picked up a completely different report. This one was on the man known as the Assassin. She had sent her acceptance of his price for the job that she wanted him to do earlier in the evening. She was paying this human well for his silence and his skill; hopefully he would live up to his reputation.
In the still silence of the mansion, its lone occupant smiled imagining herself as the leader of the Manhattan clan once that fool that used to be her mate was finally out of the way. With him gone, she would be able to ensure that her daughter was safe, that her daughter didn't risk herself trying to save humans that would only betray them in the end.
When Kendra woke the next morning, one of the first things she did was to call Nightstone Unlimited and request a meeting with Dominique Destine to discuss investment opportunities within the company. To her pleased surprise, the secretary informed her that there had been a cancellation and that Ms. Destine would be able to meet with her over lunch. The secretary reeled off a list of possible lunches, mainly salads. They all sounded equally unappetizing and Kendra finally informed the woman that she usually had a steak for lunch. The secretary sounded surprised, and put her on hold for a few moments, when she came back she asked if a steak from Chris's Steakhouse would be acceptable. Kendra agreed, she would arrive promptly at 11:30 am for the meeting.
Kendra spent most of the morning working out in the small gym in her apartment. Around 10 am, she stopped, showered and changed into a cream silk shirt, black leather pants and boots. Grabbing her jacket, she went down to the garage and rode her motorbike over to Nightstone.
Upon giving her name at the building's parking gate, Kendra was directed toward a reserved parking spot in Nightstone's garage. She took the elevator up to the top floor and admired the monochromatic décor as she walked up to the desk that sat protectively in front of a large door with Ms. Destine's name upon it and introduced herself. The woman behind the desk did a noticeable double take at her outfit, but quickly recovered and informed her that Ms. Destine would be a few more minutes. The woman then pointed her toward some uncomfortable chairs. Kendra raised a dubious eyebrow at them and instead went over to the wall length windows to look out upon the city as she waited.
Finally, the secretary called her name. Kendra turned around and her attention was immediately captured by the red haired woman now standing by the office doorway studying her. Dominique Destine was sexier in person than Kendra had thought she would be as she stood regally staring directly back at Kendra. Kendra took a moment to admire the woman's figure in an encompassing glance noting trim ankles and a narrow waist then moving upward to admire the delicate features and bright red hair. Kendra nodded to the secretary and walked up to Dominique extending her hand as she did so, the flame haired woman paused for a fraction of a second, and then extended her hand as well and the two exchanged a firm handshake.
"Miss Canmore," Dominique Destine greeted her with cool politeness, "Please come in."
Kendra chuckled softly, "Please just call me Kendra. Formality isn't really my strong suit," she said as she walked by Dominique and into the woman's office.
Demona frowned at Kendra's back as the taller woman walked by her, "Of course, call me Dominique. I understand you are here to discuss some investments you would like to make?"
Kendra knew she had won round one and permitted herself a brief victorious smile before listing the Nightstone projects she wanted to discuss.
Demona was aware that she had been maneuvered into permitting the human to use her first name, but her annoyance was quickly forgotten as Kendra unhesitatingly listed the areas of her business she was interested in learning more about. To Demona's surprise, the human unerringly choose the projects that she expected to do well in the coming year.
The immortal gargoyle had thought the human was just here to gather information about her, but as they settled down to lunch and serious business conversation, she expanded her original assumption. Kendra Canmore had a keen business sense and was a shrewd negotiator. Lunch was long completed when they agreed that Kendra would initially invest several million dollars in Nightstone, and if that went well the investment amount would be increased.
Demona studied the woman across from her as they concluded their business meeting; she understood now why the human tailing this woman was so impressed by her beauty. Pictures did not do her justice; sitting she conveyed the impression of leashed strength and power. There was also something different about this Canmore. Something that didn't quite fit, something that had caused her senses to alert when the human had first brushed past her in the doorway, and something that kept her slightly on edge even now.
Demona couldn't help but be aware that Kendra had been intently studying her throughout the meeting. The human had certainly not bothered to hide what she was doing, and Demona found this Canmore's interest in her rather disconcerting. The gargoyle was used to Hunters regarding her with fear and hatred. Kendra Canmore's gaze showed neither of those emotions, instead there was respect, and more than a hint of desire, in the humans sapphire blue eyes. Demona was starting to wonder whether or not this Canmore was even aware of her dual identity.
That notion was dispelled when Kendra commented, "I would enjoy the opportunity for a friendly spar with you sometime, either day or night. With the understanding, of course, that neither of us will intentionally harm the other, it's getting rather hard for me to find someone who can actually challenge me." Kendra waited patiently for Dominique's reply to her offer, hoping that the gargoyle would accept.
Demona gave her a hard stare, "And what makes you think I would agree to a friendly spar with a Canmore?"
Kendra grinned at her, "Worthy opponents are hard to find wouldn't you agree?"
Demona blinked at the smile, "Don't you mean enemies?"
Kendra shook her head emphatically, "No, my father wanted no part of that nonsense and neither do I. You had every right to kill Charles once he began hunting you. Every living thing has the right to defend its life, to kill, maim, or drive off its hunter if it can."
Demona was struck silent, not only by the words, but by the resolute tone with which they were stated. She had no doubt that the human meant every one of them, as odd as it seemed, there was a Canmore standing in front of her affirming her right to defend herself. Affirming her right to kill those humans who hunted her, and the human telling her this was of their clan.
Kendra continued, "I meant exactly what I said; I want a sparring partner, a worthy one, one that can help me become a better warrior. If we agree to become sparring partners I would expect that you would do me the honor of pointing out any weakness you see and I will of course do the same for you."
The human's words unexpectedly stirred old memories in the immortal gargoyle's mind. Gargoyles sparring with each other were expected to do just what the human had described, help each other become better warriors. To her own surprise, Demona found herself agreeing to meet Kendra later that evening for a workout in her private gymnasium.
"I'll return after nightfall then," Kendra responded, pleased, "Do you have any sparring gear here?" she asked.
Demona sneered, "You might want to bring some for yourself, but I will not need any."
A brief twitch of her lips was the only thing that betrayed Kendra's amusement, "I'll find somewhere to buy some for my fragile self then this afternoon. Will it be alright if I just have them deliver it here?"
Demona nodded abruptly, "That will be fine. I'll expect you at six this evening, do not be late," she finished in a sharp, demanding tone.
Kendra took that as her cue to leave. She didn't want to risk Dominique changing her mind about the sparring practice, and it looked like the red-head was beginning to regret her agreeing to it already.
As the door closed behind Kendra, Demona smirked; the human wanted a challenging sparring partner did she? The gargoyle toyed a moment with the idea of showing the human exactly how weak she was compared to a gargoyle, but then decided against it. The sparring practices would be a useful way to learn more about the human, and she wanted to find out what it was about this particular Canmore that set her on edge. The woman didn't seem to be a threat, and yet Demona had felt a vague sense of being in danger during the entire meeting. It was not a sensation she was used to feeling, and definitely not around a human.
There was also the fact that an infusion of several million dollars into her company was worth humoring the woman for a few weeks. Demona considered the human's obvious attraction for her weak human form, at least Kendra Canmore hadn't been objectionable as some human males, she hadn't stared at her breasts the entire meeting.
Kendra paused at the secretary's desk and asked for the yellow pages. It only took a few minutes of scanning thru the entries to locate a martial arts store that was not too far away. She returned the book, thanked the secretary, and left Nightstone. Once she located the store she picked out sparring equipment that she thought might come in handy. Dominique had made it clear that she didn't plan on using any protective gear, but there were times when a padded kick shield or padded target was really useful. After Kendra had made her selections, she had the store deliver them directly to Ms. Destine at Nightstone. Kendra just had enough time to drop by her apartment to eat a snack and pack a gym bag before heading back to Nightstone.
The guard at the front desk looked at her oddly when she gave her name, "I'll have to search your bag before you go any further Miss Canmore," he stated firmly.
Kendra was surprised for a second, and then she chuckled softly. "Of course," she lifted the bag to the security counter and even helpfully unzipped it. She looked on in amusement as all four items in the bag were pulled out and thoroughly inspected before being replaced.
Finally the guard seemed to be satisfied that the uniform and mouth guard weren't actually deadly weapons. "Ms. Destine is waiting on you; the open elevator will take you to the proper floor Miss Canmore." The button for the right floor was already lit when she entered the elevator. She suspected none of the other buttons would even light, but she didn't bother to try them; instead, she pushed the button to close the doors and waited as the elevator rose.
The doors opened, she stepped out of the elevator and looked up and down the hallway. Noise through an open door drew her attention; she walked toward it and looked inside. Blue padding covered part of the floor and an all in one weight system was against the wall, this was probably the right gym. Movement drew her attention as she stepped through the door yes this was definitely the right gym.
Even though she had seen pictures of Demona before and she knew that the gargoyle and Dominique Destine were the same, seeing the same features in blue was odd. Kendra's lips curved up in a slight smile, odd didn't necessarily mean bad though. Whether the features were blue or pale cream either was just as beautiful.
"What are you smiling at?" Demona asked in an irritated tone.
Kendra answered honestly, "That no matter what form you choose you're beautiful in either." She could tell that her response startled the gargoyle. Her eyes took in the differences between the form in front of her now and the form she had seen earlier. Wings, tail, claw like hands and talon like feet, pointed ears, she could see why humans would label gargoyles as bestial, but as to whether or not they were beasts Her mind flashed back to her thoughts a few days ago and she stepped closer to Demona staring searchingly into the gargoyles increasingly wary eyes.
It only took her a few seconds to come to a decision. She had already strongly suspected that the gargoyles were intelligent and not beasts as the Canmore's claimed, and looking into this gargoyle's eyes only confirmed it. "Sometimes I really hate the fact that I share blood with a bunch of damn homicidal idiots, at least my father didn't inherit whatever warped genes cause the hunter madness," she snarled angrily. Only once the words were spoken did Kendra belatedly consider the fact that it was probably unwise it was to bring up this topic around the very gargoyle the Canmore's had been hunting for so many centuries.
From the startled widened eyes, Kendra could see that she had once again surprised the gargoyle. Her eyes fell upon the box from the martial arts store, and she seized upon the distraction it offered, "Oh good they did deliver it." Hopefully the gargoyle wouldn't get angry, and wouldn't think Kendra was mental herself, after all she had went from complementing Demona to snarling about her family within less than thirty seconds. She forced herself to meet the now speculative green-eyed gaze calmly; at least the wariness that had been there was gone.
"Yes," Demona finally answered after a long moment, apparently willing to let what had been said go without further comment.
Kendra walked over to the box, knelt beside it, opened it and began unpacking the equipment she had bought earlier in the day. Demona came over a minute later and began examining the pieces Kendra had already unpacked. The dark haired woman let her eyes sweep over the gargoyle beside her, admiring the female's figure and noting the obvious muscle definition in her arms, shoulders and bare stomach. Dragging her gaze away from Demona's trim, toned stomach, she focused on the gargoyles wings. They looked soft and leathery, something she hadn't really noticed in the pictures. They were also quite large and extended a good distance to either side of Demona's body. Kendra frowned as she realized that she had not considered how to spar with Demona without accidentally damaging her wings.
Demona glanced over at that moment, noticing the humans frown, "What having second thoughts so soon human?" she sneered.
Kendra stopped staring at the gargoyles wings and met Demona's eyes instead, "I'm concerned about injuring your wings, I didn't really think about the fact they would have to be so large to carry your weight. It's not something I've had to worry about before."
Demona paused surprised by the answer then folded her wings further back and closer together.
Kendra's face cleared in relief, "That will work." She looked around for a changing room, but did not see any door that might lead to one in the room. Shrugging she grabbed her bag and walked over to the bench at the back of the room, pulled off her jacket and began changing into her martial arts uniform.
Demona found herself amused by Kendra's nonchalance as the human began undressing in front of her and took the opportunity to examine the woman's body. Kendra was surprisingly muscular for a human female, fully as muscular as she was the gargoyle realized with surprise. This might actually turn out to be an interesting evening.
Kendra finished changing into her uniform, she turned to Demona, "It would probably be a good idea to go slowly tonight and get accustomed to each other's styles since they are likely to be very different," she proposed.
Demona sneered and seemed ready to make some cutting comment, but to Kendra's surprise the blue gargoyle only muttered, "Very well."
Kendra inserted her mouth guard, bowed to the gargoyle, and then sunk into a defensive position, "If you would attack first please."
A smirk was all the warning Demona gave before she attacked. It was deftly blocked. The immortal gargoyle was not surprised, she expected as much after reading the report on this human. Slowly Demona increased her attack speed and Kendra matched her perfectly, blocking each attack gracefully. Kendra called a halt and they backed away from each other and Demona went on the defensive.
Kendra was extremely careful at first, provoking Demona to angrily tell her to stop being so cautious, she wasn't one of the weak humans Kendra was used to sparring with. Kendra smiled in response, "I'm merely learning the distance I needed to avoid striking your wings. I understand you heal quickly, but I suspect a snapped wing vane would still hurt like a bitch and personally I'd be ashamed to midjudge a blow and harm you."
Demona sighed, irritated at this, but realized that Kendra would not seriously begin fighting till she was certain that she would not damage her wings. The human was taking her promise that she would not injure Demona very seriously, something the gargoyle found both equally annoying and amusing.
Finally, Kendra's attacks speeded up and Demona actually began enjoying herself as the attacks came in faster and faster. After a while, Kendra called a halt and suggested that they spar for another half hour then call it quits for this night. The next session they could begin sparring in earnest.
At the end of the half hour of sparring, Demona unbent enough to incline her head in response to Kendra's bow. The immortal gargoyle had not taken the human seriously, considering the sparring sessions an amusement that could be quickly dropped, but after fighting with Kendra for the past hour she realized how much she was enjoying the exercise. It had been a very long time since she had someone with which to practice fighting. Her only critique was, "You need to work on not being so rote, your martial arts' training is excellent, but you have a tendency to be too predictable because of it."
Kendra nodded thoughtfully, "I don't have any matching insight to give you. I can only complement you on your skill." She paused for a moment then continued in a softer tone, "I am honored that you agreed to spar with me."
She was sincere, Demona realized, startled. The immortal gargoyle found herself at a loss as to how to respond, she finally settled for an abrupt acknowledging nod which seemed to satisfy the human.
"When would you like to do this again?" Kendra asked. After a brief discussion, they decided to meet three times a week if their schedules permitted it.
"My changing room and shower are next door," Demona informed Kendra before the woman could begin stripping off her uniform once they agreed on when they would next meet.
Kendra chuckled, thinking of how she had blithely stripped in front of the gargoyle earlier. Apparently, Demona didn't want a repeat performance, "Mind if I use your shower? I'm sweaty and I don't want to get chilled on my way home."
Demona nodded, "I'll be in my office, let me know when you are ready to leave," she ordered and then left abruptly.
Kendra raised an eyebrow at the tone as she watched Demona leave; prickly didn't even begin to describe the gargoyle, razor sharp spikes of doom might though.
After showering and changing, Kendra stopped by the office and wished Demona a good night. It garnered her a disbelieving look from the gargoyle, and she turned to leave, not expecting a response.
The muttered, "good night," in response had Kendra turning back around in surprise, she nodded her acknowledgement and left before the gargoyle's mood could swing once again. In the elevator, remembering her own moodiness in the gym, she felt a pang of sympathy for the gargoyle. She was finding it hard to deal with her regret of what her family had done over the centuries, how much harder it must be for Demona to deal with her being a Canmore.
Demona rose and moved from her outer office into her inner one, she sat down at the security monitoring console and watched Kendra as she left the building. The woman was riding the same motorbike as she had earlier in the day, after meeting the human her choice of conveyance didn't seem as odd now. Kendra Canmore had more than a hint of wildness to her. She switched from the internal cameras to the building's exterior ones as Kendra left the parking garage. Her eyes narrowed as she saw a figure step out from the shadows of the street and attract Kendra's attention. Maza, she snarled silently as she recognized the figure.
She began tapping commands into the console, as she saw Kendra halt her bike next to the detective and remove the helmet from her head. She needed to hear what the two were saying; she needed to know what connection this Canmore had with the clan's pet human.
"Detective fancy meeting you again, I'm beginning to think you are following me around. Does that mean you're not as straight as I first thought?"
Demona winced and turned down the volume quickly as the exterior microphones abruptly picked up the conversation. A sly smile formed as she saw the detective scowl at Kendra. This wasn't what she had expected, but it certainly held possibilities for being far more entertaining than she had anticipated.
"What were you doing at Nightstone," Maza asked coolly, her question clearly the beginning of an interrogation.
The gargoyle saw Kendra's head tilt to the side, she didn't respond to the detective's question, instead she was silently staring at the woman. Demona wished that she could see the expression on Kendra's face, but the human had her back to the camera. She could however, see the detective's expression, and Detective Maza was looking more and more irritated as Kendra's silence continued.
"Sparring," Kendra finally answered just as it looked as if Maza was about to demand an answer. Demona snorted, she could hear the amusement in Kendra's voice. The woman was baiting the detective, and she wasn't being that subtle about it.
The brief snort changed into an actual chuckle as Demona watched Maza's expression, apparently that was not a response the detective had been expecting.
"Sparring?" Maza repeated blankly.
"Sparring," Kendra repeated slowly. She continued in a patient teaching tone, "It's where you and another person practice fighting together, hopefully with the end result of both parties improving their skill level." Maza glared in response, but Kendra ignored her displeasure, continuing in a normal tone, "I'll have to get better though for that, it was rather one sided tonight. I think all I did was to give her a bit of a workout, she's very good."
Maza seemed to recover herself, she now glared coldly at Kendra, "Jason told you what she tried to do, she was going to kill everyone if we hadn't stopped her and that's not the only time she's done something like that. She's a murderer several times over and you're sparring with her?"
Demona heard nothing over the speakers for a second, then Kendra replied, "Surely you aren't counting the hunters she's killed, I don't care what my cousin's say that was self defense. All they had to do was not hunt her and they would have lived."
"You can't really believe that," Maza snapped dismissively.
Demona didn't see Kendra move, but suddenly the detective looked very tense. Demona stared in surprise as she saw Maza's hand reach for the gun she knew was under the detective's coat. The detective jerked her hand abruptly back to her side a half second later with a startled expression that made it clear that the reaction had been instinctive and not purposeful, but it was clear to the gargoyle that Maza had come rather close to drawing her revolver. Kendra still had not moved or even twitched in response, she might have been a statue she was so still.
When Kendra finally spoke, it was easy to tell that she was angry by the sharpness of her tone, "I believe I might know more Canmore history than you do detective, and yes I do believe that. I don't know why you would think she's at fault for the Canmore's hunting her. Either Jason's been telling you lies or you simply haven't asked for the facts. So let me tell you the reason the Canmore's believe justifies every gargoyle murder they've committed over the centuries."
She continued sounding less angry as she related what she knew, "Demona and her clan of gargoyles allied with Macbeth. When Duncan, the Scottish king at that time, decided to attack Macbeth she stood by their alliance and they killed Duncan. Macbeth chose to not kill Duncan's son, who was named Canmore. When the Canmore became an adult he retaliated against Macbeth, by then Demona and Macbeth had parted ways and Canmore's troops were able to overrun Macbeth's castle and he was killed. After Macbeth was dead, Canmore vowed to kill all gargoyles simply because his father died in a battle to one. Last time I checked that wasn't usually considered a reasonable justification for mass murder."
Maza was still eyeing Kendra warily Demona noticed, as Kendra quit speaking. The gargoyle really wished that one of the exterior cameras covered Kendra's face. The immortal gargoyle had threatened to kill the detective several times and Maza had never looked as rattled as she had a moment ago. As far as she could tell, besides sounding angry, Kendra hadn't threatened the detective in any way. Yet it was obvious to Demona that Eliza Maza felt the same sense of threat from Kendra that she had felt earlier today during their meeting. Well maybe not the same she corrected herself, she had only felt slightly threatened, given that the detective had almost draw her weapon on Kendra, Demona guessed that Maza had felt more than slightly threatened. Interestingly enough, Demona belatedly realized, she hadn't noticed feeling that way tonight when she and Kendra were sparring.
"What about the claw marks on the mask," Maza's voice drew the gargoyles attention back to the monitors. "Wasn't the first hunter some boy she clawed and left scarred?"
Kendra's laughter in response to Maza's question surprised Demona, "Ah yes poor Gillecomigan, I guess Jason left out Canmore's own opinions of his father's hired assassin."
The scowl on the detectives face in response to Kendra's laughter faded into puzzlement, "Assassin? Jason only told me that Duncan and Canmore learned how to hunt gargoyles from him."
"I had a chance to see the original journal written by Canmore when my grandfather died, it was enlightening, but not the way that Uncle Charles thought it would be when he showed it to me." Kendra explained coolly, "In it Canmore made it very clear that he thought Gillecomigan womanish because of the way he moaned and carried on about his scars and getting revenge on the gargoyle who clawed him. He also wrote that the man enjoyed killing gargoyles and men in the same measure. The only reason Canmore used the mask for his own hunts was because the mask was already recognized as a symbol, not because he wanted to take up the man's personal vendetta as his own."
Enlightening and enjoyable, thought Demona as she watched Maza's increasing uncertainty. She hadn't known what the connection was between the first Hunter and Duncan before hearing this.
Kendra was silent for a moment before finishing in a softer tone, "Gillecomigan was a man who enjoyed killing detective, both for his own personal pleasure and for money. He's hardly what I would cite as an example of an innocent victim. And in any case, unlike the other Canmores, I don't think that murdering entire families of gargoyles was in any way a justified response to her assault of him. I would think that as an officer of the law you wouldn't approve of his actions Detective."
"I don't," Elisa protested immediately.
"Indeed," Kendra responded, her tone shading toward coolness once again, "It sounded to me like you were agreeing with them."
"No," Maza responded to Kendra sharply, "no I don't. It just " her voice trailed off and she looked troubled.
Kendra finished, "That it sounded more reasonable when Jason explained it? That's the hunter madness Elisa Maza. The older generation passes it down to the younger, and if I were you I'd be wary of listening to those justifications too much just in case the madness is contagious."
Elisa stared at her, "You make it sound like a disease."
"I do have a tendency to think of them as being rabid," Kendra admitted.
The detective frowned at Kendra, crossing her arms over her chest, "She didn't have to kill them, she could have disabled them," she muttered.
"Are you really that naive Detective, or perhaps you are just that callous when it involves her?" Kendra's tone was icily derisive when she next spoke.
Demona took in the detective's reaction to Kendra's anger with sharp interest. Maza didn't reach for her weapon this time, but the way the human suddenly paled, the grip her hands had on her arms and the extreme stillness with which she stood the detective was definitely frightened. The gargoyle snarled her irritation at the lack of a camera with which she could see what Maza was seeing that frightened her so.
Kendra looked away from the detective; Demona could now see her profile as she looked up the street. A car's lights flashed across her face and her eyes reflected it back with a greenish glow. Maza seemed to take Kendra looking away from her as a sign that she could relax; the gargoyle noticed the detective taking in a few deep breaths.
"You seem to think that mercy on her part would have stopped them detective," Kendra turned back to the detective, her tone calmer, "You would be wrong though, she did leave some of them alive several centuries ago, but it only meant they lived to kill more gargoyles. Never once did any hunter she spared decide to stop their killing. Before Jason told me the other day that it was the same gargoyle, I used to think news had just gotten around among the gargoyles about what type of ruthless murders the Canmores were, that that was why the gargoyles had become just as ruthless as the hunters. Now I realize that she must have found out what they did after she spared them, and I can only imagine how much she must have bitterly regretted not killing them when she had the opportunity."
Demona stared at the monitor screen blankly, remembering. Yes, she had bitterly regretted not killing those hunters as she stood among the broken stone pieces of her kind.
"Most of the hunters were completely merciless." Kendra continued, "They came home after they had killed entire family groups and wrote about it in their journals. Wrote about killing hatchlings, about smashing eggs killing the most innocent of all life. They wrote about it as if it were something to be proud of instead of revealing how truly monstrous they had become. Leaving them alive didn't persuade them they were wrong detective, the only thing that stopped them from killing was when she killed them," Kendra finished.
The angry, sorrowful bitterness with which the human spoke echoed Demona's own emotions as she remembered the small shattered forms.
The sound of Kendra's motorbike starting up pulled Demona's attention back to the bank of monitors, "So detective you can keep telling yourself that there would have been no hunters and no Quarrymen if only she hadn't ever struck back at those trying to harm her." Kendra commented, "Excuse me though if I choose not to do decide the same, because I believe she has the same right to defend herself that I do. Good night Detective Maza."
Kendra put her helmet back on and left without another glance at the detective, not that Maza tried to stop her again. The detective only stared after her with a pensive look on her face. When Maza finally spoke, it was in a whisper that the microphones barely picked up, "You may be right Kendra, but it doesn't excuse the fact that she's tried to kill her own clan, and it doesn't excuse the fact that's she's killed her own share of completely innocent people."
Demona's eyes glowed red and she growled as she watched the detective pass out of the camera's range. She would remember that comment, but for now it was more useful for Maza to remain alive. With any luck, Goliath's pet human would tell the clan what she had heard tonight and Angela would hear about the things humans had done to them. Her daughter hadn't believed her when she tried to tell her, but she would know that Demona had told her the truth if she heard about this conversation from the detective.
Demona waited awhile longer and exited Nightstone from the rooftop, making sure there were no gargoyles or Quarrymen about first. Tomorrow night she would begin her plan with the Assassin and 'save' her daughter and the clan from the Quarrymen.
"Elisa," Goliath's greeted her warmly.
She smiled, the unease she had felt since confronting Kendra Canmore dissipating under the gargoyle's loving regard. "Hey big guy," she answered.
"Were you able to speak with Kendra Canmore?" he asked. Elisa had told him about meeting Jason's cousin the night before, and about how interested the woman seemed in finding information about Demona.
The unease was instantly back.
Goliath stepped towards her, laying a gentle hand upon her shoulder, "Elisa?" he questioned in concern.
She drew in a deep breath, "Yes, I found her about an hour ago; she was leaving the Nightstone building."
Goliath blinked, "She was uninjured?" he asked confused.
"She was sparring with Demona," Elisa answered, she relaxed enough to chuckle at his expression. "That was my response; I couldn't believe it when she said it either."
"I don't understand, she is human and a Canmore, why would Demona agree to spar with her?" Goliath protested.
Elisa shook her head, "I don't know, I just don't know. It doesn't make any sense, but I don't think she was lying." Silence fell between them, finally she shook herself out of her confused thoughts, "I did find out a few things I hadn't known about the Canmores from her, things that Jason didn't tell me."
Goliath regarded her inquiringly, "What did she tell you that he has not?"
Elisa began retelling what Kendra had told her, remembering with a chill the angry blazing blue eyes, and the aura of danger the woman had exuded. "So," she finished finally, "Kendra seemed pretty certain that the Canmore's started the vendetta and they were the ones that kept it going, and that Demona only killed the Hunters when they attacked her."
She glanced over at Goliath, his eyes were closed and his hands were fisted tightly, she could almost see the anger and sorrow rolling off him. "They did terrible things, inexcusable things," she whispered, "Kendra was very angry and upset when she told me about it." She leaned against his shoulder, offering what comfort she could.
Her eyes widened as a thought occurred to her, "Maybe that's it, maybe Kendra told Demona the same things she told me. Demona might find the novelty of a Canmore that thinks the Hunters are as evil as she does reason enough to keep Kendra around." Even as she said it she grew uncertain as to whether even that was a strong enough reason for Demona not to kill Kendra, "At least that's the only thing I can think of for why Demona would have anything to do with her besides trying to kill her."
Goliath frowned, "Hmm," it was an uncertain sound. "If that is so we should warn her that is not likely to last."
"Maybe," Elias muttered absently, her mind focused once again on trying to puzzle out her reactions to Kendra. It wasn't as if the other woman had made any threatening moves, certainly Kendra hadn't done anything to warrant the instinctive flinch for her weapon. More worrisome was the fact that Kendra had looked away the second time, allowing Elisa a moment to calm herself. It indicated that the woman was aware of the effect she was having and was trying to lessen it.
"Elisa?" Goliath's surprised tone drew her abruptly out of her thoughts.
She turned guiltily toward the huge gargoyle, "I don't know. There's something strange about her. There were times when we were talking that I felt she hesitated then admitted reluctantly, "very afraid of her."
He straightened protectively, growling, "She threatened you?"
Elisa sighed unhappily, "No, that's just it, she didn't threaten me at all, and yet I was afraid of her. And my instincts are loudly telling me that she might be even more dangerous than Demona." She turned and met his gaze, "Goliath, I've never felt the " she searched for an appropriate term that sounded less mystical, but couldn't find one, "aura of danger from anyone or anything so strongly as I did from her tonight and her anger wasn't even directed at me." She snorted, "Before meeting you guys and going to Avalon and everything else that's happened, I would have put my reaction down to being overstressed and needing some sleep." She trailed off, gave a frustrated sigh, "Ah, I don't know maybe it is that, maybe I was just imaging things."
He pulled her into a warm, comforting hug, "It is enough for me that you believe you felt threatened, no matter the reason. I want to be with you the next time you speak with her, we will warn her, and we will determine whether or not she was the source of the threat you felt."
"Or if I just need a good day's sleep?" Elisa ruefully chuckled.
Kendra woke up late the next morning; she made herself coffee and took it out onto the balcony. Gazing over the city, she considered the events of the previous day and night; Detective Maza had not chosen a good time to confront her. The moon was still full and her jaguar nature was very strong at this time of month, though she had not meant to, she had frightened the detective badly last night.
Then there was the topic of their discussion, right after she had decided that gargoyles were intelligent, and that the Canmore's had been murderers as she had always suspected, was not the best time for the Detective to insinuate that they had been right to carry on their bloody vendetta. She frowned into her coffee, after a good night's sleep she wasn't quite so sure the Detective had really been defending anyone except for Jason. Kendra shrugged, what was done was done; at least now the detective knew where she stood concerning the history between the Canmore's and Demona. Kendra didn't really care what the detective thought, only that the woman didn't interfere with her getting to know Demona better.
Today and tomorrow would be slow days for her. Even with the immortal being as prickly as a honey locust tree, Kendra was looking forward to their next sparring session. She checked her email and saw a follow up letter from John asking her what she thought about the files he sent. She decided to be truthful and replied to him that they were very interesting, but she still hadn't made up her mind about Demona. Kendra resolved to ignore any more emails from him for a few days; with any luck, he would get the hint. More likely, he would hear that she had invested in Nightstone, become angry and begin ignoring her again. However, if he were as unstable as Jason thought, he might attempt to attack her for associating with his enemy. It was something she needed to keep in mind, Kendra decided.
As she had expected, the next day and a half were slow until it was time for her to meet Demona for their first actual sparring match. The guard waved her through to the elevator as soon as she walked in the door; apparently, there were no orders to search her bag this time. She went to the locker room to change then into the gymnasium. Demona was already there.
She looked up as Kendra entered, "You will probably want to wear some of that tonight, she motioned toward the padded sparring equipment. Since you aren't used to sparring with me yet I'll avoid using my tail this time," she finished with a smirk.
Kendra was so bemused at the change in the gargoyles demeanor that she didn't immediately realize what Demona had said. As soon as the words sunk in Kendra glanced at the blue gargoyle's tail in surprise, "I hadn't thought about you attacking with your tail that should make things more interesting for me later." She gazed at the appendage for a moment longer before shaking herself, "Give me a just a minute or two and I'll be ready." Whatever was going on with Demona, Kendra didn't want to risk upsetting the gargoyle by mentioning it because it was nice to see a less prickly side of her.
They warmed up with sparring slowly, after fifteen or so minutes Kendra asked, "Ready?" The only reply she got was a flat stare. "Silly question," she grinned, "Shall we?" The tempo gradually speed up as their sparring became more serious. Kendra was thoroughly enjoying herself. She had been practicing hard for the past day and a half, and she hoped that Demona would find her a more worthy opponent tonight.
Demona was not attacking at the gargoyle's full strength and speed, and while Kendra wondered if she could match the gargoyles speed and strength, she wasn't interested in Demona finding out just yet about how strong and fast she actually was. It would raise too many questions, and she had no idea yet what Demona's reaction would be when she did find out. As the sparring match went on Kendra found herself admiring the gargoyle, she was quick, agile and a joy to watch. She found herself smiling happily and was astonished to see a quick answering grin on Demona's face in reply.
Demona was surprised when she realized had smiled at Kendra's obvious pleasure in their sparring. The human was more skilled than she had given her credit for, and Demona found that she was enjoying watching her. In both defense and attack, Kendra moved with a gracefulness the gargoyle had never seen in any human, or any gargoyle for that matter. She almost seemed to be dancing with Demona at times instead of fighting.
Knowing that the human could not possibly match her strength and speed, Demona was both slowing and pulling her blows. Even with her fighting as if training a very young gargoyle, she expected the human to have some difficulty, but to her surprise, Kendra was blocking her blows and attacking in return with ease. Curious as to the human's capabilities, Demona began increasing the speed and power of her fighting. Kendra was still able to match her. After a minute of this, Kendra called for a breather and backed away with an unreadable glance.
The human was very quick and strong, Demona's eyes narrowed with suspicion; perhaps even quicker and stronger than a human should be she realized. Though Kendra had called for a breather, Demona could tell that the woman didn't need it. Two questions were uppermost in the immortal gargoyle's mind at the moment. First, did this have something to do with vague sense of danger she had felt around Kendra in her office, and had seen Maza react so strongly to that night? Second, exactly how strong and fast was Kendra Canmore?
Kendra wasn't pleased that Demona was catching on quite so quickly, the gargoyles suspicious glances confirmed that she was not doing a good job of hiding her higher than expected strength or speed. She hadn't expected that she would be able to keep it hidden from Demona for long, but had hoped that it would take a few sparring sessions before the gargoyle realized exactly how strong and quick she really was. She pondered whether to let Demona think that she had reached her limits, or just drop the pretense, spar as well as she was able, and see what happened.
Her deliberations were cut short as Demona stepped back onto the practice mat and settled into an attack stance, silently indicating the break was over. The gargoyles fast and powerful attack left Kendra only two choices, to block or be hit. She blocked the attack and launched her own, causing Demona to step back to avoid the blow. The gargoyle stared at her with a measuring, speculative gaze before settling into her attack stance once again. The sparring continued, but now it was at near full speed and strength for both of them. Demona finally got in a solid blow to Kendra's torso and they backed away from each other.
Kendra paused to breathe in deeply and check for rib injury, there was none and in a few minutes, she knew the muscular pain would be gone as well.
Demona spoke up at that moment, commenting, "Your stronger than I gave you credit for, no wonder you have trouble finding people to spar with that are able to challenge you. Did I injure you with that last attack?"
Kendra glanced at her noting with surprise the true concern in the gargoyles green gaze. She shook her head, "I'm ok you didn't hurt me. I can't fight up to my full abilities with other people. I haven't had a challenging sparring session with anyone for years now."
Demona looked at her sharply, "Don't insult me then by holding yourself back."
Kendra looked directly in the gargoyles eyes trying to read her, and then nodded. They began sparring again, and this time, as requested, Kendra did not hold back. Demona found her skills seriously tested as they sparred back and forth along the full length of the practice mat. This time it was Demona what was tagged by a deceptive attack that switched momentum midway and got through her defenses. Kendra backed off after the touch and looked at Demona as she rubbed her side and stared at her intently.
Demona had one of her questions answered; she had attacked at full strength and speed expecting to overwhelm Kendra, but instead had found herself evenly matched. The gargoyle commented suspiciously, "You aren't fully human are you, what are you a mutate of some type?" Kendra glanced at her but did not answer. Demona grinned not surprised that Kendra would not trust her with the answer yet, "Do the other Canmore's know?"
Kendra shook her head, "And I would rather they didn't please."
Demona was surprised by the request. She slowly nodded her agreement, "I certainly will not bother to inform them." Since she couldn't see any advantage she could gain by telling them, it was an easy promise for the gargoyle to make.
Kendra stared at the flame haired gargoyle for a long moment, "So do I need to start worrying about you locking me up somewhere to figure me out?" She asked evenly.
Demona paused, amused by the direct question. "Would you even trust my answer?" Before Kendra could reply the gargoyle waved a dismissive hand, "I'd rather keep you as a sparring partner, so you don't need to worry about me locking you up one night. Besides, I'm certain I will figure it out anyway."
Kendra chuckled, amused by the gargoyles self-confidence, "Very well, did you want to continue our sparring?"
Demona smirked, "Best two out of three; we are evenly matched so far."
They began again, but neither immediately went on the attack. Instead, they circled each other each looking for the opening that would allow them to win the match. They exchanged a flurry of blows, and Kendra thought she saw the opening she was watching for, she gripped Demona's forearm, attempting to pull the gargoyle off balance. Unfortunately she didn't realize how much heavier the gargoyle was than a human of the same size.
Demona chuckled at Kendra's surprised expression right before she shifted her weight throwing Kendra off balance instead and threw the human to the mat. The gargoyle moved swiftly to exploit her advantage, straddling the woman and using her greater mass to pin her against the mat no matter how she struggled to break free.
Kendra gritted her teeth and strained against the taloned hands holding her down, unable to accept that Demona was stronger than she was, no one had been stronger than she was for several years. She stared into the triumphant gaze of the gargoyle above her, unwilling as yet to admit defeat. She might be able to break free if she kneed Demona in the back and knocked her off balance, but she would strike the gargoyles wings if she did that, and she didn't want to risk injuring them.
Demona knew she had won; Kendra had impressive upper body strength, but was not strong enough to free herself with brute strength alone. The human wasn't using her legs to knock her away, which might have worked. Demona suspected it was because Kendra feared damaging her wings. Still it wasn't her fault the human wasn't taking advantage of the only way she could break free. Demona leaned closer; she was going to enjoy this. The red lips parted, "Surrender," she purred.
The gargoyle was about to rub the human's defeat in further only to be startled by the feel of Kendra suddenly relaxing underneath her. The blue eyes locked onto her own darkened in unmistakable arousal, the rest of the words died in her throat as she realized how Kendra had taken what she had said, and how much the woman was apparently willing to surrender to her at this moment. Demona froze staring down at the woman beneath her, then startled at the direction her thoughts were taking; she abruptly released the human and stood up.
Demona glanced briefly at Kendra as the woman got up from the mat, her mind unhelpfully replaying the woman's reaction to her demand, the moment she had stopped struggling against Demona's strength, the look of desire on her face. Demona had known that Kendra was attracted to her, but what had happened a moment ago had caught her by surprise, as had her own momentary impulse to keep holding the woman down.
She had expected that she would have to put Kendra in her place at some point due to the woman's attraction to her; but she had never thought that she would respond to that desire. She had never found humans attractive in that way but then Kendra wasn't just a human. No human possessed the deadly, graceful strength Demona had admired so much during their sparring, and the feel of that strength surrendering so completely Demona shook her head angrily and finally noticed Kendra's expression. She looked confused, apparently, what had occurred had taken them equally by surprise, the gargoyle found that realization oddly calming. Demona asked curious as to how Kendra would respond, "What's bothering you? Trying to figure out how you lost that last match?"
Kendra shook her head, "I didn't expect you to have as much mass as you do; I miscalculated the amount of force needed." She did not comment on her reaction to Demona's demand that she surrender, she was still trying to figure out why she had reacted as strongly, and more importantly, as submissively as she had. She had never felt the desire to yield to anyone before, in her past relationships she had always been the strong one, the one in control.
All of Kendra's relationships had ended when she realized that something was lacking, or she realized the women were with her more for her money than for herself. She had been too young before she had met the jaguar to be interested such things, she hadn't even known she was gay then. Once she had become sexually active she had certainly never been physically overpowered by anyone, indeed she had always felt the need to be very careful and gentle with her lovers. Kendra wasn't entirely sure she wanted analyze why being overpowered and feeling helpless in Demona's grip, and then being told to surrender, had resulted in the sudden surge of arousal she had experienced.
Kendra began taking off her safety equipment and stacking it. "When did you want to spar again?" she asked when she was done, finally looking at Demona.
Demona raised one eyebrow, "We can meet night after next for a short session, and again Friday and Monday. I have plans for the evenings this weekend that I cannot reschedule."
Kendra nodded, "I will be in town for another two weeks, and then I will be out of town during the full moon. I always spend that time at my estate in upper New York. But besides that time I should be available."
Demona replied, "I will be working for awhile longer, let me know when you are ready to leave."
Kendra showered, ignoring one problem by concentrating on another; she hoped that Demona would not decide to betray her word to her. She would have to be careful, but she had to give the gargoyle the chance to either keep her word or break it.
Demona stared out the window pondering what all had happened this evening. She intended to keep Kendra's secret. She enjoyed having someone to practice with, and now that neither one of them was holding back during their sparring she was enjoying it far more than she had ever anticipated.
That, however, wasn't the only reason she would keep Kendra's secret. This Canmore could be very useful to her once Goliath was out of the way and she took over the leadership of the clan. Given how Kendra had reacted to Maza's insinuations last night, Demona was certain she could persuade Kendra to tell the clan about everything that the Canmore Hunters had done over the centuries they had hunted her. They would believe Kendra, and that would make it much easier for Demona to persuade them how dangerous humans could be.
As for Kendra's secret, it hadn't escaped Demona's notice that while Kendra had been dismayed that the gargoyle noticed her abilities, she hadn't been particularly upset. Cautious and wary yes, but not that upset. The woman had to have known that sparring with Demona would eventually result in just what had happened tonight. That meant that either Kendra was very naive, or she was certain that Demona would not be interested in exploiting whatever her secret was once the gargoyle found it out. Demona didn't really have any idea what Kendra was, but perhaps the woman had revealed something when she said that she would spend the full moon at her estate. She would have to do some research to see if that piece of information lead to any answers, Demona frowned considering the current demands on her time, as soon as she had the time she would research it she resolved.
Then there was the last thing that had happened tonight, the moment in the gym, one that Kendra apparently didn't want to admit to any more then Demona did from the way she had avoided Demona's gaze for a while afterward.
Demona remembered the first time she had seen two women together. It had been a few months after the massacre of her clan at the castle. She had found a cottage out in the middle of a forest. Thinking it was a deserted house; she had crept in trying to find some food and had been lucky to find some stored fruit and cheese. Then she had heard the moans from the loft. She had froze as she heard a feminine voice say, "I love the way you look right now all soft and wanting me to touch you. But I think I'll make you wait for what you want." The woman had chuckled throatily and then a different feminine voice had groaned in what sounded like a plea.
Demona had been confused at first, she had heard human men and women together but never two women, she had not even been aware that two women could be mates. Curious, she had left the cottage and quietly crawled up to the roof and found an open window she could stare in without being seen. There were two women naked in a bed, one on top of the other.
The dark haired woman on top had the other woman's arms pinned to her side and was busy nibbling down her stomach. The woman being pinned was blond and she struggled slightly against the dark haired woman's hold, but what was occurring seemed entirely consensual since she looked very aroused by what the dark haired woman was doing. The dark haired woman continued downward and Demona realized with shock exactly what the woman had to be doing. The blond woman was moaning and trembling and Demona looked away and then back as she heard the dark haired woman ask, "Is this mine?" The blonde groaned and said in a hoarse whisper, "Yes." The dark haired woman growled softly then returned to what she had been doing as Demona looked away again.
Demona had never heard this type of love play between humans, but then human males assumed their women belonged to them, in that way human and gargoyle males were rather alike Demona had noticed. Perhaps this type of love play only took place between human females.
After a few minutes, she heard again, "Is this mine?" She glanced back in the window as the other woman said in a deep voice, "Yes." It took a moment for Demona to realize that the dark haired woman was using her fingers to thrust into the other woman. The gargoyle looked away again and then back as the blonde's moans and whimpers escalated and she started shuddering in release. Demona expected that the dark haired woman would be done now, but she paused only a moment to watch the other woman looking satisfied then returned to what she had been doing apparently intent on bringing the other woman to release yet again.
Demona had intended to leave but now she was curious as to how many times the dark haired woman intended to bring her partner pleasure. Human males stopped satisfied with the one from what she had seen around the castle. She waited, after two more cries in the darkness there was quiet, looking in the window she saw that the blonde was exhausted. She lay gasping and the dark haired woman smiled and moved upward to cradle her against her saying, "Sleep my love."
The blonde said weakly "You need?" and the dark haired woman said "No, I'm alright, sleep." The blonde seemed to relax then and the dark haired woman smiled and snuffed out the candle, their forms snuggled against each other on the bed and then it was quiet except for their breathing.
She had left once the two women were asleep, but had returned by the clearing occasionally to see what they were doing. The last time she had went she had found the bodies of the two women. They had been savagely attacked; around the bodies were the footprints of several men. Demona had taken the time to bury the two women and had later found out the reason for the attack. She had overheard two men bragging about how they and others had killed the two women; they had called the two women unnatural and had said they were in league with the Devil. Listening to the two men Demona had been unsettled by the hatred and venom in their tones, and how the others listening to them had agreed that they had acted justly.
Demona had known humans hated her kind, but obviously, they hated what the two women represented just as much. She had watched the gentleness and obvious love the two women had for each other and could not understand why that love incited such hatred. The gargoyle had followed the two men as they left and had taken great pleasure in killing them both.
She had not known of the word lesbian at the time, but 600 years later she knew the word and found herself frequently cursing the sexual stamina of the two women who lived below her as she tried to study her sorcery during the night. They only saw each other on weekends as both of them were maids, but they made up for all the lost time during the week when they were together.
Demona had finally counted the hours they made love during one winter weekend when the nights were long and came up with a truly amazing number. Demona remembered how she had smirked when she realized the two had spent no less than 12 hours of the 24 night hours making love. No wonder the male humans seemed so threatened by these women, they obviously realized how poorly they measured against a woman's stamina.
Demona smirked in her office as she remembered her annoyance at the two women who made it so difficult to study on the weekends. Kendra walked in at that moment and gave her a curious look, but merely wished her a good evening before turning and leaving. Demona sighed knowing that she would have to deal with what had occurred in the gym sometime, but more important right now was the plan she had to get Goliath out of the way and lead the Wyvern Clan for herself.
That night Kendra dreamed, her subconscious rebelliously bringing up what her conscious mind would prefer to forget. She was lying on her stomach; Demona's toned muscular form resting partially upon her, pressing her into the surface of the bedding. The flame haired gargoyle was softly growling as she bit gently upon nape of Kendra's neck while holding her arms pinned firmly to the bed. Kendra moaned as she felt a gentle, teasing touch upon her most intimate flesh, and then the satisfaction of being filled. At first she could not comprehend how Demona was managing this until it dawned on her that what she felt gently thrusting inside her was the gargoyles tail. Between the steady penetration and the teasing nipping bites along her neck and shoulders, it was not long before she was writhing under Demona. Release seemed always just beyond her grasp until Demona bit into the muscle at the junction of her shoulder and neck. The sweet pain was enough to finally send her over the edge.
The orgasm woke Kendra from the dream while her body was still twitching with the aftershocks. "Damn," she whispered shakily to the dark room. She rubbed her neck where she remembered being bitten then got up on shaking legs to go to the bathroom and shower. She was drenched with sweat.
Kendra tried to banish the memories of her dream as she walked into the gym Wednesday night. She tried not to stare speculatively at Demona's tail. Tried not to figure out whether or not what she had dreamed about was even possible, and when she decided that it was she desperately tried to ignore the quick flash of heated arousal the realization brought.
When Demona paused during a break to examine her tail frowningly, Kendra knew she had failed. As soon as they began sparring again, Demona whipped around, her tail sweeping in low and fast and knocked Kendra off her feet. Kendra's breath left in an abrupt exhale as her back slammed into the mat, and it was a second before she could breathe in again.
She looked up meeting the gargoyles irritated glare, "You need to concentrate on your fighting or I'll keep dumping you there," the redhead snapped.
Kendra felt a heated flush spread across her face and dropped her eyes, "Sorry," she apologized.
An annoyed sigh drew her attention back to the gargoyles green eyes, "Get up," Demona ordered, "And focus on sparring." She emphasized the last word harshly.
"Yes ma'am," Kendra responded automatically to the tone then growled under her breath in annoyance. She rolled to her feet and glanced warily at Demona, the gargoyle's scowl had been replaced by a smirk. She sighed; at least the redhead seemed to be over her annoyance.
One hour later Demona exchanged good nights with Kendra and watched the black haired woman leave her office. She wasn't certain why she wasn't more annoyed at the woman. The blushing, furtive glances at her tail had made it only too obvious that Kendra's thoughts were definitely not focused on how Demona might use the appendage as a weapon. At least it had only taken the one hard fall for the human to focus her thoughts where they were supposed to be, sparring.
Friday's sparring session was much easier for Kendra as she had not dreamed of Demona after that one time. When the redheaded gargoyle tried to knock her off her feet using the same attack, Kendra was able to avoid the sweep of the tail and even scored a hit on Demona. The gargoyle even complemented her for spotting the attack and turning it to her advantage.
Monday night Kendra entered the gymnasium, but did not see Demona anywhere. Curious she walked up stairs and called out Demona's name.
The reply came from Demona's office, "In my office. Sorry I didn't cancel our session, I forgot about it."
Kendra paused, noticing the obvious pain in the gargoyles tone, and she stepped tentatively into the office. Demona was standing by the windows, looking out over the city. Kendra walked up beside her and asked softly, "What's wrong?"
Demona snapped, "I didn't ask you to come in here, just leave," despite the words, there was little actual fire in the gargoyle's tone.
Kendra looked at the gargoyles face and realized with astonishment that she had been crying. She questioned sharply, "What's happened, whose hurt you?" Unaware of how protective she suddenly sounded.
Demona glanced at her, surprised out of her misery for a moment at Kendra's tone and her protectively bristling form. She shook her head, "Nothing that you can fight, just some problems in my personal life."
Kendra was surprised by the admission, she offered, "If you want to talk about it, nothing you say will go out of this office. I'm a good listener."
Demona grimaced at the thought; Kendra would not sympathize with her if the human knew the reason for her current difficulty, "Thank you, but no."
Kendra nodded, "I guess I'll be going then, give me a phone call when you're ready to spar again or if you just want to talk." She was moving to leave the office when a helicopter swept around the building. The windows shattered in a spray of glass and instinctively Kendra protected her face with her arms. She felt her head spinning, and barely had time to notice the device spewing out gas into the office before she passed out. When she came to, she was lying in a cage. She looked around; Demona occupied the cage next to hers. They exchanged glances and Kendra asked, "Quarrymen?"
Demona nodded, "Your cousin was none to happy to see you in my company."
Kendra shrugged, "He doesn't dictate the company I keep," she looked at the very small room that held the cages. The walls were made of metal and their edges were riveted to the room's structure. She could feel the floor vibrating and hear a loud droning sound. She frowned, she didn't like the conclusion she was drawing about what they might be inside, "Any idea where we are?"
Demona replied, "In the hold of a plane flying north. He mentioned it as he was frothing about cutting me to pieces and burying them in permafrost to make sure I die this time."
Kendra raised an incredulous eyebrow, "Good grief, isn't that a bit of overkill?"
Demona chuckled at the reply, "Just last week I would have been raging about this, but now I find I really don't care. I was seriously thinking of finding Macbeth and ending this once and for all anyway. I am sorry that you got caught up in this though."
"Macbeth," Kendra repeated uncertainly, "The Macbeth?"
The redheaded gargoyle snorted, "Yes the Macbeth," she answered sardonically. "The sorcery that gives me immortality also gives him immortality, we are bound together and only if we kill each other can we actually die."
Kendra took a few moments to absorb this surprising information, fitting it in with the history she already knew. "Well," she finally responded, "The play isn't over till the fat lady sings; still a lot of time to see what happens."
Demona shook her head at this baseless optimism, leaned back against the bars of her cell and closed her eyes. Kendra took the opportunity to start stretching the kinks out of her muscles. She braced herself against one side of the cage and tried shoving at the bars, try as she might she was unable to bend them. That failing she took a good look at the lock, it didn't take her long to give it up as a lost cause. She didn't know enough about electronics to figure out how to break it.
Finally bored she started yelling for someone to come down and talk to her, as Demona wasn't in a conversational mood. The immortal gargoyle stared at her as if she was crazed; Kendra paused and asked, "You're not in a conversational mood right?" Demona shook her head so Kendra resumed, "I'm bloody bored and she won't talk, so someone come down here and either feed or amuse me!"
Demona murmured, "Points for novelty, I don't think I've ever heard of anyone wanting to be amused when they were a prisoner."
Finally, the hatch to the cargo hold opened and Jon stepped thru it. Kendra cordially greeted him, "Hello Jon, how are you doing. Don't suppose you have some food or anything? I'm starving."
Jon glared at her angrily, "What were you doing with the demon?"
Kendra replied, "At the time of your attack? Leaving."
Jon cocked his head to the side at the answer, "Why were you there?"
Kendra grinned at him, "Martial arts workout, she's quite good as a sparring partner you know," she confided blithely.
Jon shook his head, "I would think you were lying, but I suspect you aren't. Sparring with the Demon sounds just crazy enough for you think it was a challenge. Tell me that you were there to spy on the monster and I'll believe you."
Kendra shook her head, "I can't say that Jon, I was there to find out more about her yes, but mostly because she's a great sparring partner."
Jon asked, "Were you planning on telling me what you found out?"
Kendra shook her head, "Nope."
Jon slumped, "Why did you even ask for information from me then."
Kendra looked at him, "Because I knew you had information about her that I didn't, and I wanted to know what it was."
Jon looked at Kendra curiously, "Why?"
Kendra stared at him, she didn't like tipping her hand like this but she didn't see much of a choice at this point. She replied, "Because she's as intelligent as you or I, yet some of her actions make no rational sense."
Demona glared at Kendra after that comment, but Jon and Kendra ignored her. Jon asked, "What do you mean? She's a demon of course she doesn't make sense."
Kendra shrugged, "That computer file she made, why even bother? It's not as if she couldn't remember the details, they weren't that complicated. I certainly would not have left anything like that lying around explaining in exact detail what I planned to do. And leaving it out where Robyn could easily find it hell you and I know she called Robyn while she was down there stealing it , revealing that she knew full well where Robyn was, and then she practically told her she only had days to live."
Kendra paused for emphasis, "How much more obvious can you get, she did everything short of drawing a map and making step by step directions to make sure you guys knew where you were supposed to be and when you were supposed to be there. As I said her actions make no rational sense, why go through all that effort, all those centuries of collecting mystical artifacts, only to sabotage yourself in the end?" she asked. Kendra paused thoughtfully, "Unless perhaps you are insane and have an irrational reason," she turned and asked the redheaded gargoyle, "Are you insane?"
Demona studied Kendra intently before replying, "Perhaps, after listening to you I'm starting to wonder, I never really thought about why I made that file."
"No irrational rational reasons?" Kendra asked in a hopeful tone.
The redheaded gargoyle blinked once, "No." Demona hadn't recognized what Kendra was doing at first; she had almost been convinced the gas was still affecting her. Now she could see that Kendra was treating Jon Canmore in the same way she had treated Detective Maza when Demona first overheard them. Kendra's tone was consistently light and blithely unconcerned as if what were being discussed really didn't matter at all to her at all. She was toying with her cousin, and Demona could tell he thought Kendra was just being stupidly flippant. Demona couldn't really see what advantage it gave them except perhaps that Kendra was getting information from Jon that she wouldn't have if she had been more confrontational. The game Kendra was playing with him certainly didn't seem to be getting them any closer to freedom.
"Ah well," Kendra responded as if disappointed, then her expression brightened, "By the way I loved the statistical data at the end, perfect touch," she commented confidingly to the gargoyle.
Demona nodded, amused by the woman's performance despite the seriousness of the situation, "Thank you."
Jon was staring at the two of them with a bewildered expression, he shook his head, "Let me guess you have some big psychological reason why she did that."
Kendra shrugged, "I have no clue why she did that, it's one of the things I was curious about."
Jon stared at her for a long moment, obviously confused, and then he started yelling, "I don't care what you think, she's a demon and I'm going to make sure she's finally dead! She killed my father and laughed at us as she left, and she's the reason Jason is paralyzed! She must die for all the Canmore's she's killed."
Kendra stared at him, when he was finished she asked, "So does that mean I'm not getting any food?"
Jon paused, open mouthed at the non sequitur, "Food? Ah sure I think I have some food bars."
Kendra nodded, "I would appreciate that if you wouldn't mind." Jon stared hard at Kendra's cheerful face and then went back out.
Demona stared at Kendra, "Are you sure you're not related to Broadway?"
Kendra replied, "Who?" she sounded honestly puzzled.
Demona shook her head, "Never mind, and you were asking if I was insane."
Jon stepped through the hatch, tossed Kendra several food bars and some water. He turned without speaking and left, sealing the hatch behind him.
Kendra asked, holding up one of the bars, "You want one?"
Demona straightened, nodding. Kendra checked the covering for tampering both visually and by smell then tossed the gargoyle two of the bars while she began eating the others. "Let me know if you need some water we can toss the container back and forth," she mumbled through a mouthful. They ate the food bars and passed the water back and forth as needed. Kendra noted that Demona seemed to have come out of her funk somewhat even though she was still very quiet.
The hatch opened once again and Jon stepped inside. "I won't be going with you to your final destination; we will be landing soon and transferring you to another plane. Kendra you still have a chance to avoid sharing the Demon's fate, promise me that you will stay quiet about this and I will spare you," he said.
Kendra shook her head sadly, "Sorry Jon, I can't make that promise."
Jon pulled a gun and pointed it at her, "Kendra don't force me to kill you along with the Demon just say that you won't fight me and I'll make sure you get back alive."
Demona shouted, "You fool, take what he's offering and go back to New York! You barely know me. I am a demon, I destroy everything I touch. Please, don't add yourself to the list."
Kendra glanced at her once before turning back to her cousin, "Just put me on the same plane with Demona, Jon." With that she sat down and took a swig of water and proceeded to ignore her cousin who stood there pistol extended. Finally, he cursed, lowered his weapon and stomped out.
Demona hissed angrily, "Why are you doing this?"
Kendra replied evenly, "Because I don't know why you made that recording yet."
Demona stared at her, certain now that between the two of them, it wasn't she that was the insane one. "This is all because you don't understand why I did something!"
Kendra nodded, "It's been driving me crazy with curiosity, I can't stand not understanding and you're the only one who can give me an answer."
"Well it doesn't have to drive you any further your already there," Demona snapped. "Your curiosity is going to get you killed you silly fool."
Kendra smirked at her, "My choice."
Demona snarled at Kendra completely frustrated with her. She slumped down into the corner of the cage and was silent.
Kendra commented softly, "Besides I would have never forgiven myself if I had agreed to what he said and left you with them. I care about what happens to you."
Demona turned and stared at her for a moment then shook her head and sighed, but said nothing in response. Kendra's desire not to leave her would not change anything except getting the human killed; something the woman seemed stubbornly unwilling to accept.
Finally, the plane landed and the two cages were unloaded. The smaller plane they were being loaded into did not have enough room for two cages so the Quarrymen tranquilized their two captives and put in the same cage. The two were still sedated when a sudden storm forced the plane down an about ninety minutes after takeoff and caused it to crash. Everyone on the plane died instantly.
Demona revived first, groaning and frozen, she looked dazedly at the interior of the wrecked plane. It took her a minute to regain her senses enough to realize that she was lying on top of Kendra; she pulled herself up off the woman and inspected the cage that held them. It had been damaged in the crash; on one side the hinges had been snapped. It only took her a few tries to widen the opening enough to pull herself out and then pull Kendra out as well.
Examining the woman she realized that Kendra was dead, there was no pulse and her body was cool to the touch. Cursing Demona leaned over and listened for a heartbeat, there was none. She held Kendra's body for a moment trying to ignore the sharp pangs of regret she felt over the woman's death. After a minute she slowly released Kendra's body and forced herself to start exploring the plane.
The three Quarrymen in the cockpit were crushed in the wreckage, the front of the plane having borne the brunt of the damage, only the rear of the plane where their cage had been was relatively undamaged. It was bitterly cold and the wind howled around the crashed plane swirling up ice and snow, it would be near impossible for her to fly in this she reluctantly decided, she would have to wait for the storm to end.
She returned to the rear of the plane, her gaze drawn unwillingly drawn to the body there. Foolish human, why hadn't Kendra listened to her when she told the woman to leave, she hadn't wanted this human to die. Movement drew her attention, and she stared unbelievingly. Kendra's hand twitched again, confused Demona knelt by the woman and felt for a pulse. She was certain there hadn't been one earlier, but now there was a pulse. It was weak, but it was definitely there.
Demona frantically began looking for blankets or anything she could use to warm the woman. Ripping through the storage compartments on either side of the hold she finally found a box of survival gear that had several of the silver survival blankets in it. She opened one and laid it on the floor then placed one against the wall. She sat down on the blanket and pulled Kendra into her arms then wrapped the other blankets around the both of them warming Kendra's body with her own. Demona was confused by the evidence that Kendra had the same ability to heal that she did, and elated to find out that Kendra was not actually dead. Slowly the woman warmed up, Demona finally saw her eyelashes flutter and her chest rise as she drew in a deeper breath.
Kendra started coughing and coughed up some blood then leaned back against Demona commenting hoarsely, "Ok dying sucks a lot, I can avoid doing that again." She shivered, and huddled gratefully against the warm body of the gargoyle and asked, "Did you die too?"
Demona replied, "Yes, however I recovered quicker than you did. I think you must have cushioned me so I wasn't as damaged as you." The immortal gargoyle paused, and then added, "I guess this was one of the things you weren't mentioning to me."
Kendra shrugged, "More like it was one of the things I suspected, I've never died before."
Demona said, "I gathered as much from your comment, and your right it does 'suck', each and every time."
Kendra said, "Thanks for warming me up, I don't suppose you found any food with the survival blankets?"
Demona chuckled, relieved, "Yes I found some more food bars." She asked, "Did you eat as much before or is it just something about planes that makes you hungry?"
"I always ate before I came over to spar," Kendra admitted. She added, "I have a high metabolism, it has something to do with my strength and ability to heal. After I eat we can figure out where we are and work on getting out of here." Kendra wrapped one of the blankets around her and went to raid the emergency rations.
While she was eating, she started searching the back of the plane for anything they could use, making a pile of the items she found in the middle of the floor. After a few moments of watching what she was doing, Demona joined her in the search. The hold wasn't very big, so it didn't take the two of them very long to search every corner, when they finished the pile of useful items was distressingly small.
Kendra had found her gym bag and her wallet during the search, as well as of all things Dominique's purse. "They wanted it to look like a theft?" she offered hesitantly as she handed the purse over to Demona.
The gargoyle opened the purse, drew out her wallet and opened it, she growled, "The vermin stole the cash I was carrying. At least they didn't take my IDs or credit cards." She dropped the purse next to the pile, "I'll see what I can find up front," Demona snarled before turning and leaving the hold.
Kendra stared after her for a moment, then grabbing a backpack; she started packing the items they wouldn't need immediately. They had found one complete set of winter survival gear that Kendra thought would fit Dominique. She set them to the side along with the cargo webbing and restraining straps she had found. While the Demona was searching the front of the plane she began working on putting the webbing and straps together to make a harness.
Demona returned holding what looked like folded maps, cash, and three handguns. The gargoyle placed the weapons by the backpack, put the cash in her wallet with a satisfied look, and then unfolded the maps and laid them side by side on the floor. "I found the flight map and a topographical map; between the two hopefully we can figure out where we are. I also found these on the Quarrymen," she indicated the handguns. "They should prove useful; unfortunately I didn't find any extra ammunition for them."
Kendra nodded, the weapons would help, but right now she was more interested in figuring out exactly where they were, and where they needed to go. "Quebec," She muttered in surprise, following the flight path out of New York and all the way to the very tip of the Canadian providence almost to the ocean. She blinked, "I guess he wasn't kidding about the permafrost." She pointed at a small marked town on the map, "This must be where we changed planes."
"Alma," Demona read, the gargoyle shook her head, "I don't know anything about that town. I've been to Canada several times for business, but never in this area."
Kendra glanced at the watch on her wrist, "Its three fifteen am, this is the same night, right? You don't think we lost a day?" Kendra asked staring at the map.
Demona answered, "No, we weren't out for that long." The gargoyle stared at the flight map as well, understanding now why Kendra was asking. "It would take a prop airplane three hours to fly from New York to Alma, and it probably took them an hour or so to get us to an airport from my office. We didn't spar so it would have been around six thirty when we were taken, so we arrived in Alma around ten or eleven perhaps."
"And this plane is smaller than that one was, so it's probably slower as well," Kendra said thoughtfully. "How long do you think we were dead."
The redhead frowned, "I don't know, I don't know how injured we were. At least an hour I would think, more likely two hours."
Kendra reached into a pocket of the backpack and pulled out a pencil she had found, "So if the plane went down an hour or two after we left," she made two marks on the flight path, "Between here and here?" she questioned.
Demona reluctantly nodded. She watched as Kendra folded the flight map and laid it on top of the topographical map and then made matching marks upon it. Between those two marks was where they thought they were located. It depended however on whether or not the storm that had downed the plane had also pushed them off the marked flight path. "It will take us a week or more to walk to the nearest town," her talon trailed down the map to the nearest marked city. "We will have to travel at night when I can withstand the cold in my true form, and find shelter during the day to keep warm. We were lucky they had that survival gear for you to wear."
Kendra shook her head, "It will be better if we wait a few hours and give the storm time to pass. We can travel during the day, Dominique can wear the winter clothes, hopefully with those and some blankets you will be ok out in the wind." Kendra was working on a complicated looking set of straps and webbing as she spoke.
Demona stared at Kendra, disbelievingly, "And what will you wear? Your leather outfit is quite nice, but not suited to this environment."
Kendra chuckled, "I still have one surprise left and I'm not revealing it till after you switch into your day form." Kendra put down the makeshift harness she had been working on and crawled back into the nest of blankets the gargoyle had made while trying to warm her. She closed her eyes wanting to get some rest before starting the long cold trek. She could feel the gargoyles stare and half expected the redhead to insist that she explain herself, so she was surprised when she felt the blankets around her move. When Demona settled in next to her she finally opened her eyes and looked over at the gargoyle sitting next to her. She knew the redhead wasn't cold, the gargoyle had said she didn't feel the cold earlier.
"It will be easier for you to stay warm," was all Demona offered as an explanation.
Kendra scooted closer to the warm body next to her, "Thanks."
Demona shifted slowly into a more comfortable position so as not to wake the woman who slept so soundly against her. She really didn't know why she hadn't insisted that Kendra stop playing games and tell her exactly why the woman thought they could travel during the day. What was this last secret that Kendra so gleefully kept to herself, and why was she indulging the woman by allowing it? Noticing the Kendra's hair had fallen onto the woman's face she reached over and gently combed it back. In sleep Kendra's expression was softer than Demona had ever seen it; she stared for a moment taking in the dusky skin, the long sweep of eyelashes. She is beautiful for a human, her mind whispered. After a moment the immortal gargoyle rested her head back against the side of the plane, she might as well try to get some sleep too.
Kendra jerked abruptly awake upon hearing Demona scream in pain as she changed into Dominique. As soon as the change was complete, Kendra handed her the cold weather gear and insisted she put it on before she lost too much body heat. Dominique looked at her curiously and didn't argue with her. Whatever Kendra was keeping secret that she believed would allow them both to escape this frozen wasteland during the day would doubtless be revealed very soon.
Kendra handed Dominique the harness she had made, "Ok this is a harness to hold you on my back, make sure its snug around my chest and waist so you won't slip. You should be able to hang your legs through these loops and hold on here. I still can't figure out how to get a blanket wrapped around you at the same time, but maybe that will become clear once this is on me."
Immediately after finishing these strange directions, Kendra took off her jacket and began to undress, packing her clothes in the backpack as she removed them. Dominique blinked, "What are you doing, it's below freezing," she asked astonished.
Kendra grinned, "Getting my own fur coat." With that strange comment, she cried out in her own pain as her skin darkened and her body size increased, within a minute a huge stocky black cat shook itself and looked at Dominique with sapphire blue eyes.
Dominique whispered, "Kendra?" questioningly, her mind unable for a second or two to accept what she had just seen.
The cat nodded then pawed the harness that Dominique had dropped in her shock.
Dominique recovered quickly, "Well this explains a few things," she murmured as she stared at the huge black cat that was more than half as tall as she was. No wonder I felt something the first time we met, she thought, somehow I knew this was in my office, she thought. She picked up the webbing and straps that Kendra had put together, it hadn't made sense to her when the woman had been making it, but now it did. She laid the webbing across the cats back and adjusted it so that it hung evenly on either side of her torso, and then began tightened the straps until the harness was snug. "Is this too tight?" she asked. Kendra shook her head. "Pinch or bind?" Again another shake. "Good," Demona murmured focusing now on the problem of how to keep the survival blanket around her while upon her unexpected mount.
She picked up one of the blankets and cut four slits along two of its sides and placed it over the webbing, she would slip her hands and legs thru these. Dominique picked up the backpack and swung it onto her back. Kendra crouched down making it easier for the redhead to get upon her back, once there Dominique adjusted the blanket and grasped the webbing firmly. Feeling the woman settle into place, Kendra trotted out of the plane. The two halted once they were outside, eyes squinting in the bright glare of sun on snow.
There was nothing in sight except the snow and ice covered plain they had crashed upon as far as either could see. Dominique pulled out the compass and pointed south, she shouted over the wind, "That way is south." Kendra dipped her head in acknowledgement and started trotting at a ground-eating lope. Dominique concentrated on pulling the blanket closer around her to block out the wind. She stared at the ground passing rapidly underneath Kendra's paws and began to think that they would actually make it out of this mess. Relaxing into the movement of the cat beneath her she buried her face into the thick black coat and let herself sink into a light sleep.
Kendra concentrated on covering as much ground as possible, her thick coat helped keep her warm, but she was built for the tropics not the arctic, and she felt the chill wind keenly. The constant exercise helped, but she kept scanning the horizon hoping to see indications of the forest she knew was somewhere south of where they crashed. It might not be warmer once she reached the forest, but at least the trees should cut the wind. After an hour, she saw a green line emerge in the distance and she picked up her pace. This was promising; if she were seeing a forest this soon it meant they were in the southern area of the oval she had marked on the map. She had been afraid that they were in the northern part and had several hours of snow covered terrain to travel, but thankfully that didn't seem to be the case.
It was another hour before she finally entered the forest and she paused to sniff the wind as she did so. She smelt pine, resinous and sharp, earth scents mixed with the scent of snow, but little of the musky scents that indicated animal life. She guessed that she needed to continue traveling south to find any. She needed to get further away from the snow covered plain where there was little food for large game to live upon before finding something large enough for her to hunt.
Kendra felt Dominique stir upon her back, "A forest," the redhead whispered, "We're further south then."
It was the same conclusion Kendra had drawn, and she could hear the same relief that she had felt in Dominique's voice. The redhead said nothing more and Kendra picked up her pace once again, threading her way between the sparse trees with ease. Two hours later, she smelt a new scent upon the wind, one she recognized with ease. There were deer here. She needed to go hunting; the food bars she had eaten earlier were long since gone and her stomach was letting her know it needed meat and lots of it if she wanted to remain in cat form for any length of time.
The area they were in was hilly, and she could see the occasional outcropping of what looked like limestone. With this type of terrain, Kendra felt there was a good chance she could find a cave for Dominique to shelter within while she went hunting. It took some time before she spotted what she had been searching for, a shadowed opening in a hillside underneath an overhand of rock that turned out to indeed be the opening of a small cave. Dominique stirred as she felt her stopping and sat up looking around.
"Why have we stopped?" she asked and Kendra pawed at the cave entrance and shook gently. Dominique asked, "You want me to get down so we can go in there?"
Kendra dipped her head in a nod. Dominique climbed stiffly down from her back and followed her into the cavern, ducking underneath the low entrance. Kendra inhaled deeply, she could smell nothing besides stone and dirt, there was no indication that anything was currently living within. She padded deeper into the short cavern and looked around verifying that it had no inhabitants.
Dominique was looking around at the cavern, glad to be out of the wind, "Should I gather firewood, are we staying long enough?" she asked.
Kendra nodded and pulled at the straps, looking imploringly at Dominique. Dominique figured out what she wanted and came over and took off the straps. She asked, "Why don't you just change back?"
Kendra shook her head and laboriously dragged a paw through the dirt and spelt out hunt. Dominique nodded, "You're going out hunting, be careful and let me know it's you before you enter the cave. I'll keep the handgun by my side in case someone besides you feels like joining me."
Kendra coughed in amusement, ducked her head in acknowledgement, then turned and left.
She lifted her muzzle scenting the deer again and started working her way closer to the resting herd, carefully keeping downwind of them. As she got closer, she crouched down and crept towards the deer. They were larger than the ones at home, but she was confident she could take one down. She picked out an older male lying on the outside of the herd and crept up as close as she was able then sprang onto the animal's back. The deer was only able to cry out once before Kendra seized its head in her mouth and bore down, driving her incisors through the top of its skull and killing it instantly.
The other deer lurched to their feet and scattered terrified. Kendra ripped open the belly of the deer and instinctively searched out the fattest organs to consume immediately. Once she had sated her immediate hunger, she seized the carcass by the neck and began dragging it towards the cave. It took her a good fifteen minutes to drag it that far, but she finally dropped the carcass near the cavern and looked around for Dominique.
The redhead stepped out of the cavern and approached cautiously asking, "Is it alright if I take some of the meat?"
Kendra moved away from the deer, understanding that the other woman thought she might be possessive of her kill.
Kendra waited till Dominique had cut several strips from the animals flank and wrapped them in a square of hide from the animal before she returned and began feeding on the carcass. She gorged herself eating as much as she could as Dominique gathered wood for a fire. Once her stomach was full, she seized the carcass once again by the neck and awkwardly pulled it after her as she climbed a nearby tree and slung it over a branch out of the reach of other predators.
Then she leapt back down and noticed Dominique watching her. She padded over and started trying to spell water with her paw, but Dominique looked at the W and said, "Water?"
Kendra nodded and Dominique said, "Wait for me, I could use some water as well and we should fill up the canteens."
Kendra waited; when Dominique came back, she was carrying the two canteens they had found on the plane. Kendra led the way to where she had found a stream while tracking the herd of deer. The stream was small but deep and Kendra plunged in her muzzle and drank deeply. Then she walked out into the stream and ducked her head underneath the water letting the swiftly flowing water wash away the blood from her kill. She lifted her head again; snorting to clear her nostrils of water then sat down and rolled over one way and then back again before standing. She padded back out of the stream. Dominique was staring at her warily. Kendra coughed in amusement and moved away from the redhead before vigorously shaking the water out of her fur. If it had been warmer she would have considered it, but it was too cold to get the woman wet.
When they got back to the cave, Dominique knelt beside the fire she had started earlier and checked the venison strips she had placed upon a rock in the coals. They were finally cooked enough to eat. Kendra laid down by the fire with a deep sigh as Dominique began eating. The redhead stared at her dozing companion thoughtfully; exactly how Kendra had killed the deer had not escaped her notice. One sharp powerful bite though the skull, that along with the color and body shape made her certain that Kendra's cat form was that of a jaguar.
Dominique was still confused, however, as to what exactly what her companion could be. She had initially assumed that Kendra was a human appearing mutate, but that was obviously not true. Above human strength while human, rapid healing and immortality, and the ability to change into a larger than normal jaguar, even with these three pieces of information Dominique had no clear idea how these things fit together. Nor did she have an idea how Kendra had changed into a cat while using neither magic nor sorcery.
Dominique finished eating and moved over to sit next to Kendra, wrapping herself in the blankets for warmth. She tentatively rested a hand on Kendra's back and when huge cat didn't object Dominique began running her fingers through the thick fur. Kendra stretched and started purring contentedly. Dominique smiled at this and continued running her hand along Kendra's back. No, she had no idea what Kendra was so she would simply have to ask when she next had the opportunity she resolved. The redhead didn't realize when she fell asleep, but she woke near nightfall surprised to find that she had been using Kendra as a pillow while she slept.
When Dominique woke, Kendra woke as well. As soon as the redhead moved from where she had been lying upon her, Kendra padded to the mouth of the cave and looked out smelling the air inquisitively. A muffled painful cry had her rushing back into the cavern before realizing that what she had heard was Demona's form change. Demona was wrapping her wings around herself when Kendra entered the cavern. The gargoyle stared at the cat curiously as Kendra moved nearer the fire and then began her painful return to her human shape.
Demona came over and rested a taloned hand on Kendra's shoulder once the woman was fully human again, "Your shape change is more painful than mine I believe," she said softly.
Kendra gasped, "It's much more painful from jaguar to human than from human to jaguar. I think it has something to do with it being easier to increase mass than decrease it though I can't figure out why that would be, it seems as if it would be more logical the other way around." In another few seconds, the pain went away and Kendra was able to roll over and stand.
She paused to examine herself and Demona asked, "Checking to see if you missed anything?"
Kendra grinned at her, "Yes actually, I always think I'm going to forget something." Kendra sighed, "I'm still tired, do you mind if I nap a few hours. I'm not really used to napping in jaguar form, but I didn't want to change back until after sunset just in case something decided to attack us."
Demona nodded, "The nights are longer this far north. We have enough time for you to sleep for a few hours." Demona grinned at Kendra as she lay back down and snuggled into the blankets, never seeming to notice that she had been nude the entire time. Unlike most humans Kendra didn't seem to have much of a nudity taboo, at least not around the gargoyle she didn't, not that Demona minded the woman's body was all sleek muscle and feminine curves. Demona didn't choose to admit the fact that she perhaps appreciated Kendra's body far more than someone who hated humans was supposed to.
The redheaded gargoyle sighed, wondering what the fools at her company were doing. With any luck they assumed that the two of them had been kidnapped instead of killed, and were being properly careful with her company thinking of her wrath if they should bungle things too badly. She sat down beside Kendra's sleeping form and slipped under the blankets with her. The air in the cave was not as cold as it had been on the plane, but it was still very cold. Kendra sighed in her sleep and snuggled against the gargoyles side. Demona tensed then slowly relaxed as Kendra settled back into a deep sleep. The redhead gazed at Kendra's sleeping form and thought of the woman's words to her cousin on the plane.
The entire episode had a surreal quality that had begun with Kendra demanding that someone come and amuse her because Demona didn't want to chat. The gargoyle had to chuckle as the remembered some of the odd things Kendra had said and done while playing with her cousin. Of course, some of the things Kendra had said were not so amusing, such as her questions about the virus and Demona's plan to exterminate the humans.
Demona frowned to herself, thinking, Kendra was right, why did I ever make that tape, and having made it, why make it so easy for Robyn Canmore to find? I knew who she was all along and hired her anyway, and then I took her to meet Dr. Sevarius and opened the vault right in front of her making sure she saw all the pieces of my plan including the disk. A disk that was not even lying flat on the shelf, but which I put into a holder almost as if I wanted it to draw attention to itself. I don't think that I knew Robyn was stealing the disk when I spoke with her, but I did know she was there and that she had no reason to be in the laboratory at that time. I should have came in and checked, I should have been suspicious, but it didn't cross my mind and It really should have. Kendra was right, why didn't I just deliver a map and directions to Robyn Canmore, it would have been easier." Demona looked down at the woman curled up at her side, "Perhaps you are right, I am insane and just haven't realized it," she whispered.
The immortal gargoyle's thoughts drifted to what Kendra had said to her when Jon had left, that she could not have lived with herself if she had accepted her cousin's offer that she cared for Demona. Kendra may have suspected she could survive dying, but she had not known for certain, yet she had been willing to risk it to stay by Demona's side. Demona wasn't certain what she felt about that, she should probably feel angry or scornful, but with the failure of her most recent plan the thought that Kendra was willing to risk dying to stay with her was well she wasn't sure what she was feeling, but it definitely wasn't anger and it certainly wasn't scorn.
Demona leaned back against the cave wall absorbed in her thoughts; most recent in her mind was the recent plan that could have gone even more horribly wrong than it had. Why had she ever trusted that Assassin, she could have gotten her daughter killed. What type of a mother was she that she had led her daughter into such a dangerous situation? She sighed and stared unseeing at the sky visible outside the cavern and absently began to stroke Kendra's back.
Demona was half dozing still slowly running a taloned hand up and down Kendra's back when she froze and then removed her hand guiltily. Kendra's breathing had changed and she had moaned softly. Demona frowned to herself thinking that she really shouldn't have been touching Kendra like that knowing that the woman was attracted to her. Hopefully the dark-haired woman would go back to sleep.
However, such was not to be; Kendra began writhing slowly obviously deep in the throws of a sensual dream. Demona blushed, but fascinated couldn't help but watch. She was amazed to hear Kendra moan "Demona, yes oh yes oh please." The last come out in a begging tone. The gargoyle tore her eyes away realized she really should wake the woman, but she didn't and her eyes returned to Kendra's form realizing what she was dreaming from the crossed arms over her head. Demona couldn't seem to stop her gaze from taking in the soft wanting look on Kendra's face, the dusky skin that covered smooth strong muscles along the now bared shoulders and arms, the way her hair spread Demona tore her gaze away once again her own breathing becoming ragged and shook her head, what was wrong with her she was actually becoming aroused watching and thinking of Kendra's plea.
Kendra suddenly arched and lowered her head baring the back of her neck and drawing Demona's gaze again and whimpered, "oh yes so good. Yes harder oh please yes," the black haired woman's tone lowered into a demanding hiss, "bite me "
Demona realized she had to leave the cavern, the smell of Kendra's arousal was strong in the air and she was beginning to seriously consider what might happen if she turned the woman's dream into reality. The gargoyle managed to slide out of the blankets, stealing one as she left. Standing just outside the cavern mouth, she tried to persuade herself that she didn't want to go back inside, press Kendra down into the blankets, and claim the woman as she was so sweetly begging. From within the cavern she heard Kendra cry out, "Oh yes, oh," There was pause as if Kendra had drawn in a breath, then, "Demona," the last carried such tones of pleasure that it was obvious to the gargoyle what had occurred. Demona closed her eyes, her mind replaying that last passionate cry, and then opened them on a shaky breath.
What was wrong with her, she knew it was normal for some humans to be attracted to their own gender and it certainly didn't bothered her, but she had never been attracted to a female before and definitely never to a human. She lashed her tail, feeling the unmistakable tension within her body, there was no denying it, she was aroused, aroused by the thought of claiming a human woman. She already knew part of what was affecting her, she had identified it days ago, Demona smirked remembering, though then she had hardly know exactly how wild Kendra could be. She could easily admit to herself that the thought of such an obviously powerful and strong woman wanting to be dominated by her was very arousing in and of itself. The second reason though was less easy to admit to, she was lonely and feeling unlovable and here was this beautiful woman dreaming passionate dreams about her
Suddenly she heard, "Oh shit, you stupid idiot, damn what have I done."
Demona stepped back into the cavern saying, "Kendra it's alright, I'm here." Kendra blushed deeply at the sight of her and Demona said, "You didn't offend me, I just needed to step outside for a moment."
Kendra looked unsure, "You're not mad at me."
Demona shook her head, "I'm not mad at you." Demona said, "I'm going to pull the rest of that deer down from where you hung it earlier and see what meat is left on it. We should probably take everything we can strip off of it with us." With that, she left.
Kendra stared after the gargoyle amazed that Demona hadn't appeared to be even slightly angry with her for daring to dream about her the way she had. The flame-haired gargoyle had been unsettled perhaps, but not angry. Kendra cocked her head to the side as she considered Demona's reaction and allowed herself to wonder if the attraction she felt was not entirely one sided. She sighed, right now though wasn't the time, they needed to cover as many miles as they could tonight before dawn changed Demona to her human form. Kendra changed into her jaguar form and shook herself, relieved to feel the mental turmoil and sexual tension drain away with the transformation. As a jaguar she was less emotional, and without hesitation she exited the cave to watch while Demona striped the rest of the meat from the carcass and wrapped it in one of the survival blankets.
Demona asked, "Do you mind carrying the backpack and meat?"
Kendra shook her head and led the way back into the cavern. There Demona fastened the harness to her and lashed down the backpack and meat firmly to make sure they would not shift.
Demona unfolded the topographical map and laid it on the floor of the cavern, "I believe we are in this area," she pointed at the map with a taloned finger, then trailed it south to the nearest marked water, "We will head south and hopefully in a few hours find this river. We can follow it downstream and cross here before morning if I am correct about our current location."
Kendra nodded and loped out of the cavern, with one last look Demona left as well and climbed up the cliff to get some height then glided away with Kendra following. They made good time to the river and started following it downstream. Demona stopped occasionally and stared at the map intently. Finally, they found the ford marked on the map and Demona smiled, it was the correct river, they knew where they were. Of course, where they were was out in the middle of nowhere and with no human habitation marked on the map for hundreds of miles, but at least now they knew where in the middle of nowhere they were.
Demona estimated that they could easily travel 40 or maybe 50 miles a day with the long winter nights. If they could both hold that pace, they would reach a sizable town within five days. She decided to continue following the river, which ran due south and motioned to Kendra to come over. When Kendra padded over next to her and was looked at the map curiously, Demona pointed to where they were, "This is where we are now, and this is where I would like to get to before morning. Do you think we can travel that far?" Kendra looked at the map and shrugged. Demona said, "Well let's see how far we can get." Kendra nodded and waited for Demona to find a tree to climb and become airborne then followed the gargoyle.
A few hours before dawn, they passed the point that Demona had wanted to achieve. An hour later the gargoyle started looking for a suitable place for them to rest during the day. She spotted a likely looking deadfall and waited for Kendra to arrive then asked in a low voice, "Smell anything?"
Kendra sniffed, there was something here, but she wasn't certain what it might be, as she couldn't get enough of a scent. She cautiously approached the deadfall, and getting a better scent stopped and hissed, the hair along her back and tail instinctively rising. She moved to block Demona and shook her head.
Demona asked, "I don't see anything what are you smelling?" Kendra pawed out a clear patch of ground and started spelling snake out. Demona caught on as she was starting on the k and said "Snakes, I understand, no I guess I don't want to share a deadfall with snakes. Do you have any suggestions?
Kendra nodded, and led the way to a spot in the forest that she had noticed earlier. A large tree had died years earlier creating the opportunity for younger trees to take its place. Now the area had several seven and eight foot saplings growing within it. Kendra began to rip the ones in the center out of the ground. Demona moved to help her looking at her curiously as they cleared a small circle out of the middle of the saplings.
Kendra glanced around and sniffed to make sure there were no enemies near and changed to human. Shivering she got her clothes out of the backpack and began putting them on while explaining to Demona, "Bend down the remaining saplings and tie them at the top to form the supports for a shelter, I'll help as soon as I get dressed. We can use the pine branches to insulate the sides and block the wind." They prepared the shelter and then laid out the survival blankets on the inside. Demona used her claws to dig a deep hole in the cold ground for a fire pit while Kendra gathered wood and started a fire going.
It was almost dawn when Demona crawled into the shelter to transform; she dressed and emerged as Dominique. She grumbled at Kendra, "Go warm up you're shivering in those clothes, I'll finish putting something together for us to eat." Kendra nodded gratefully and went into the shelter and huddled under the survival blankets until she warmed up and fell asleep. Dominique entered the shelter an hour later with a bowl of warm plain stewed venison and woke her up long enough to eat. The redhead then slipped under the blankets with her and did not protest when Kendra pulled her into a loose embrace sharing her body heat.
They both slept into the afternoon, when Kendra woke and stretched, being careful not to waken the red headed woman sleeping peacefully in her arms. Kendra pulled Dominique closer and savored the feeling of the woman in her arms, feeling very protective of her. It was amazing to Kendra how she felt different about each of Demona's forms, she wanted to be dominated by Demona, and she wanted to make tender gentle love to Dominique. Though she suspected she would have no objections to either of Demona's forms wanting to dominate her, she thought with a small grin.
After the two dreams she was finally willing to admit that maybe it would be nice to not always be the strong one in a relationship. Maybe it would be nice to let someone else ok who was she kidding let Demona take control of the relationship and of her at least occasionally. Demona aroused her so very powerfully because Demona was stronger than she was and was physically able to dominate her. That was something her human ex-lovers had not been capable of doing, and now she wondered if perhaps that was one of the things she had been missing in her past relationships.
Suddenly she noticed Dominique was awake and looking at her with an arched eyebrow. The redhead asked, "Do you ever think of anything besides sex?"
Kendra flushed, "Food?"
Dominique began laughing, "Are you sure you're not a male in disguise?"
Kendra sat up and whipped up her shirt and looked down at her breasts and then back at Dominique, "Yep, I'm sure I'm not a guy."
Dominique looked at Kendra's exposed breasts and said in a breathless voice, "No I guess you're not." She tore her eyes away from the dusky swells tipped with rose colored nipples. "You really don't have much of a problem with nudity do you, that's unusual for a human."
Kendra lowered her shirt, "I'm sorry I just feel comfortable around you, but I shouldn't have done that. I'm too impulsive sometimes, a thought comes into my head that seems funny and sometimes I just follow along without thinking."
She looked sad and impulsively Dominique hugged her, "No it's alright I'm getting used to it actually, and I think I would miss the surprises if you stopped. I'm glad you're comfortable enough with me to do things like that. You have a wicked sense of humor and I quite enjoy it."
Dominique relaxed her hold, but remained leaning against Kendra enjoying the feel of resting against the black haired woman. She knew she should draw away, but her own desire was rising with the contact. The sound of Kendra crying out her name was replaying in her head and she could no longer deny that she wanted to hear that cry again, something inside her hungered for it. Dominique was used to getting what she wanted, and right now she wanted Kendra, but Kendra was human or part human and the part of her that hated humans just couldn't believe she would actually consider sex with one of them.
While she was thinking, Kendra shifted position, resting her head in the hollow of Dominique's shoulder. The redhead's racing thoughts derailed at the feel of Kendra tucking her head into her shoulder; the move was so trusting and invoked a protective feeling in Dominique as well as causing her heart rate to increase. The redhead growled softly, she had the overwhelming desire to push Kendra down to the floor and Dominique tried to reign in her thoughts and think rationally, she wasn't sure that she wanted a relationship with Kendra. She wasn't sure that she didn't either, she was only sure that she wanted to stroke her fingers over the dusky skin she had seen so much of, wanted to test the texture and feel of all of it. She wanted Kendra to call out her name in passion for real, not to a dream lover. Damn it this desire was overwhelming and it wasn't as if Kendra was completely human.
Dominique said trying to keep her voice from betraying her need, "I've never been with a female before, but I would like to make love to you Kendra. I'm just not sure how ready for a relationship I am right now, and I don't want to lose you as a friend."
Dominique waited and Kendra looked up at her in surprise, "Casual is fine, I've never really had a serious relationship " Kendra trailed off looking uncertain for a moment then looked into Dominique's eyes and saw the raw need there.
Dominique leaned closer to Kendra and tentatively kissed her, then deepened the kiss as she felt the black-haired woman shift toward her. Kendra leaned at first forward expecting to take the lead, but Dominique resisted, leaning forward and pushing Kendra back onto the floor of their shelter instead. Dominique pulled back and looked intently at Kendra and then started unbuttoning the black-haired woman's shirt baring the breasts that she had gazed at earlier in desire. She reached out and touched the dusky skin, noting the paleness of her hand against it, then began stroking the soft swells pleased when Kendra's soft moans and the way she arched her back made it clear that she appreciated how this felt. The dusky rose tips she had noticed earlier were stiff with arousal, she leaned over to take the nearest one in her mouth.
"Yes," hissed Kendra arching into the contact.
Kendra's fingers combed restlessly through her red mane as Dominique teased and tormented both nipples into reddened prominence as Kendra urged her on with her soft cries. Eventually she kissed her way back up to Kendra's neck claimed the full lips in a possessive kiss while trailing one hand down the woman's stomach and unbuttoning and unzipping the leather pants she wore. Kendra groaned and pulled off her own pants and under clothes and shrugging out of her shirt leaving herself totally nude. Dominique pulled the blankets over the both of them and resumed her explorations of Kendra's body.
Dominique was surprised at her own excitement and desire, she had thought Thailog had excited her, but the thought of having Kendra writhing under her in passion drove all thoughts of the cloned male away. Then there was the fact that Kendra seemed to be afflicted with a fine quiver, at first the redhead was confused by the occasional trembling, but a look at Kendra's face made it clear that the trembles were definitely not caused by fear. Dominique's last doubts melted away at this evidence of exactly how much Kendra desired her touch, and each uncontrollable quiver that ran along Kendra's body just increased the redhead's desire to possess the black-haired woman.
She trailed a hand across Kendra's inner thigh and felt Kendra open her legs wider inviting Dominique to touch her. The redhead accepted the invitation and groaned as she felt how wet Kendra was for her, a groan matched as Kendra cried out her name as she felt her touch. Dominique found it interesting that Kendra called her Demona in both forms when she was crying out in passion. She always called her human form by her human name otherwise.
Dominique continued her wandering touch tormenting Kendra by almost giving her what she wanted, but never stopping long enough to allow Kendra release. Dominique watched Kendra intently, she knew from her explorations of her human form what should arouse Kendra, but putting it into practice on another woman was slightly different. She was running on instinct and memories of watching the other two women make love. Thankfully Kendra made it clearly known when she really liked what Dominique was doing to her.
Finally Dominique thrust her fingers into Kendra feeling the warm flesh immediately clench around her fingers as if to hold them there and watched the results, admiring the trembling tensing of her stomach and neck, the deep flush on her face, the glazed passionate eyes and the deep groan the action elicited. It took a few minutes to figure out how to do what she desired, but finally she figured out how to angle her hand so that she could both thrust inside Kendra's warm soft depths and circle the sensitive nub outside with her thumb. She smiled as Kendra moaned her name pleadingly and timed the movement of her thumb and thrusting fingers together until Kendra was writhing wildly.
"Demona," Kendra cried out her name in the same tone as she had during her dream, a rush of possessive satisfaction surged through the redheaded woman at the sound, and then she had to hold onto the black-haired woman tightly as she arched and shuddered in her pleasure. Several more followed, as Dominique did not ceasing her tormenting touch until she felt Kendra was finally exhausted. Dominique gazed into the sapphire blue eyes and was satisfied with the almost drugged look the woman had as well as the obvious total relaxation in her body.
She pulled the blankets over both of them and rested Kendra's head on her shoulder, watching as Kendra fell into a doze, her face relaxed and a smile upon her lips. Dominique still felt her own arousal, but hearing Kendra cry out her name as she came, feeling the woman's innermost depths spasm in release around her fingers had filled some deep need in her, leaving her feeling relaxed and satisfied despite her arousal. She could wait for Kendra to recover.
She smiled down at the relaxed woman in her arms, then as a thought surfaced she shook her head, she still had not asked Kendra how she was able to change into a jaguar. Dominique smirked; there would be time later after more important things were taken care of to ask her questions. Relaxing into the warm body of the woman in her arms, the redhead's eyes closed dozed as well.
Kendra stirred a short time later still feeling languorous in the afterglow of their first lovemaking. For someone who said she had never made love to a woman before Dominique had been amazing. She shifted until the dozing redhead was lying on the silver blanket and carefully removed the halter top Dominique was wearing exposing pale coral tipped breasts. Kendra lowered her lips and set about gently waking her lover. She could tell exactly when Dominique woke from the change in her breathing and from the arms that came up and wrapped around her.
"Kendra," said Dominique softly then, "that feels so good." Dominique arched slightly pressing her breast harder against Kendra's mouth and Kendra stroked her free hand down Dominique's body snagging her one remaining piece of clothing and removing it. Then teasing her by drifting across the wetness she had exposed and playing with the soft curls, but keeping her touches light and teasing. Dominique groaned and opened her legs wider and bucked slightly trying to get her to touch where she wanted.
Kendra grinned and capitulated, knowing that Dominique was likely still aroused from earlier and it would be cruel to tease her too much. She stroked deeply into the redhead, enjoying how the yielding tender flesh parted at her entrance and then gripped her fingers greedily. She withdrew her fingers from the warm depths and then glided along the tender flesh to stroke the engorged muscle there on either side while her thumb just barely grazed across the crest. She continued her slow patient strokes as she suckled and nipped at Dominique's breasts.
Feeling the increased tension in the redhead's body and how forcefully Dominique was rising to meet every inward stroke Kendra quickened her tempo knowing that the redhead was close. She held Dominique to her as the redhead jerked in sudden release and cried out her name. Leaving her hand temporarily still, she waited a few minutes then began gently stroking inside her lover once again. Dominique drew in a breath and Kendra saw the redhead realize that she was going to become aroused all over again. Dominique began moving to match her rhythm twisting beneath her then crying out once again in her pleasure. Kendra enfolded the redhead in her arms, holding her shuddering form through the aftershocks while stroking her back to calm her.
Dominique buried her face in Kendra's shoulder, "That felt wonderful," she sighed.
Kendra smiled, "Your welcome, and thank you for earlier, for someone who hadn't been with a woman before you were quite amazing."
Dominique smirked, "I've always been a quick learner."
"Lucky me," Kendra commented sincerely.
The redhead chuckled, sniffing the air she commented, "It smells like an orgy in here, and we stink."
Kendra smiled and stretched lazily, "Well there is a reason for that," she commented smugly as she sat up and moved toward the loose pine branches that covered what functioned as the door of their makeshift shelter. She pushed the branches aside and poked her head cautiously outside glancing around to make sure nothing had decided to be curious about the noises emanating from the shelter. The air had gotten quite a lot warmer than it had been she noticed, no wonder the cold hadn't been that bothersome while they made love. Kendra leaned forward and grabbed one of the pots from the backpack. She filled it with water and set to heating on the coals from the fire, then she scooted back into the shelter and snuggled beside Dominique, "Ten minutes or so till we have lukewarm water."
The redhead turned and rested her head upon Kendra's chest sighing contentedly; a passing thought had her green eyes narrowing. She pulled away, supporting herself on her elbow, "This seems like a good time to ask you how exactly you transform into a jaguar, you don't use any magic or sorcery, or if you do you don't use a kind that I recognize," she commented curious.
"Ah," Kendra murmured, "That is a bit of a tale, and to be honest with you I don't really have a good understanding of exactly why it works."
Dominique could see the bafflement in Kendra's blue eyes, "Perhaps if you explain it to me I might have an idea, I've studied sorcery for almost a thousand years now, and I've searched for knowledge about every other type of magic as well. There is a good chance I might know something, or have an idea where we could find more information," she offered.
The black-haired woman looked at her hopefully, "That would be nice. I guess the place to start is at the very beginning " Kendra related how she had come upon the jaguar in the temple; how she had climbed down to free it only to have it free itself. How she had lost consciousness and had woken up covered in blood, but unhurt and the jaguar gone. "Does that mean something to you?" Kendra asked seeing the thoughtful frowning look on Dominique's face.
The redhead shook her head slowly, "I'm not certain, perhaps you were able to turn into a jaguar after that?" she asked.
"No, not immediately," Kendra responded, "First there were the dreams " she described how she had dreamed of becoming a jaguar, how in her dreams she learned how to submerge her human form within the body of the jaguar and how to submerge the jaguar within her human form. "The night of the full moon when I first transformed for real was terrifying for me, but it was also exhilarating. The night, the scents, the world was so much more than I ever could have imagined," Kendra finished wonderingly.
"Shamanism?" Dominique offered hesitantly, "I was never able to find a practitioner, and there is very little written about it that is more than hypothesis and conjecture. What little information I found mentioned animal spirit guides and the shamanic practitioner's ability to transform into the shape of their spirit guide." Those were not the only two pieces of information she knew, but those were the two characteristics that applied right now.
Kendra frowned, "But I've never met any animal spirit guide," she said, disappointed.
Dominique laid a comforting hand on her chest, "As I said what I found was mostly conjecture, that part might not be correct. When we get home I will show you what books I have, and we can look for more information. I'm sure that between the two of us we can figure out how you got your abilities."
"Thank you," Kendra's blue eyes warmed at Dominique's promise of help. She leaned forward and tenderly kissed the redhead, reluctantly pulling back from temptation she said, "The water should be warm now and I know we need to get ready to go soon."
They washed the essential parts, dressed and Dominique fixed more warm food for the both of them. It was almost nightfall; Kendra sighed and looked with fondness at the shelter where they had made love. They hoped to make 50 mile or so traveling due south before stopping two hours before sunrise. Demona didn't like stopping so early, but there was no meat left and they would need the time to hunt. She turned and waited for Demona to glide off it was time to leave this place.
Elisa leaned exhausted against the wall of the elevator watching the floor numbers increase as it rose from the ground floor of the Eyrie building to the upper floors where the castle entrance was located. When the doors opened, she took the hallway and then the steps leading out to the upper battlements. Goliath and the others should be returning from their nightly patrol soon and she had new information on the investigation into Demona's disappearance two days ago.
She leaned against the stone parapet and looked out over the city, it was a clear cold night and she could see the twinkling of the city lights for miles around. She scanned the skyline impatiently and was finally rewarded when she saw the outlines of five gargoyles against the dark sky. Undoubtedly, Hudson was sitting in his armchair watching TV while the younger gargoyles patrolled.
"Elisa," Goliath greeted her as he landed, the other four gargoyles adding in their greetings as they landed in a loose half circle behind him. "You have more news of Demona?" he asked somberly. Elisa had told them of Demona's suspected kidnapping the previous night, and that police suspected that Kendra Canmore had been taken as well.
"Yes," she hunched into her coat, trying to escape the cold, "The night guard confirmed that Kendra Canmore entered the building fifteen minutes prior to the attack on the building. This morning detectives on the case got confirmation that a helicopter was sighted very near the Nightstone building at that time. Witness said they thought it was about to crash into the building, but it just hovered there for several minutes then moved off."
"Do you believe it actually was real Quarrymen that took them?" asked Angela suspicious, but also looking worried.
Elisa grimaced, Demona had hurt Angela terribly with the Quarrymen deception she had carried out last week. She had used actors playing Quarrymen to attack the clan for the purpose of gaining Angela's trust, only to abuse that trust in the worst possible way as she used it to get Angela to lure Goliath into a trap. Only Demona's hired killer attempting to kill Angela along with Goliath had revealed the entire sordid plan. As far as Elisa was concerned, the only good thing about the entire mess was the fact that Angela's eyes were now open about the type of person her mother had turned into over the centuries.
"She probably set this up too," growled Brooklyn.
Elisa shifted uncomfortably, "I don't know," she said reluctantly. She had wanted to believe this was another ploy by the immortal gargoyle, but the evidence simply wasn't pointing in that direction. "We got a crime stopper tip today on the helicopter. An aircraft mechanic at Teterboro Airport saw a helicopter matching the description of the one seen hovering by the Nightstone building land there. He saw five men get out of the helicopter and carry two long bags from it and load them onto a waiting airplane." She had everyone's attention at this point, "He noticed them because he thought at the time it looked like the scene from a move where they were gangsters were moving bodies, it wasn't until he saw the news that he realized he might have actually seen Dominique Destine and Kendra Canmore's kidnappers moving them from the helicopter."
"Where was the plane headed to?" asked Lexington, "Don't they have to file flight plans?"
Broadway broke in, "Yea, but if their kidnappers they would have filed false ones so the police couldn't figure out where they were actually going," he asserted knowledgeably.
"This isn't a movie though," snapped Angela, sounding upset.
Broadway stared at her wide eyed for a moment, before understanding sympathy filled his eyes and he took a step to stand supportively beside her.
"They didn't file a false flight plan," Elisa jumped in before anyone could say anything else, "The plane flew to Alma, Quebec in Canada. The Canadian police confirmed that it landed there and met another plane and then returned to Teterboro the same night this afternoon."
"So the kidnappers, if that is what they actually were, took them to this town in Canada?" asked Goliath.
Elisa shook her head, "Yes, but they didn't stop there, the plane from Teterboro landed in Alma. The Canadian police are certain that the crew split there with some of them taking a smaller plane further north and some of them returning to New Jersey in the original plane."
"Further north where?" asked Lexington, his agile mind as usual focusing immediately upon the significant piece of information.
"Sanikiluaq, Nunavut," she stumbled over the second word still uncertain as to how it was pronounced, "It's on an island in the Hudson Bay, there is an airport there were they were supposed to refuel."
"Supposed to?" Angela asked first.
The dark haired woman sighed, "They never arrived there, the Canadian police aren't certain if they ever mean to or whether " she hesitated, then continued, "or whether the storm that swept in from the Bay that night forced them to land somewhere between Alma and there."
"That is troubling news," rumbled Goliath, "If they were forced down by this storm Demona will be able to survive due to her immortality. Kendra Canmore's life is the one that is in danger, she is human and while Demona may have found her interesting enough to not kill her immediately, I doubt Demona will help her make it to safety. Demona will leave her behind rather than be slowed down by her," he predicted. "The police there are looking for this plane?" he asked.
Elisa nodded, "They will be sending out search planes tomorrow to fly along the flight path the plane turned into the control tower in Alma."
"Good," he said pleased.
"We still don't know if this isn't some elaborate plot by Demona," pointed out Brooklyn.
"No we don't," agreed Elisa, "But whether it is or not if the plane was forced down its best they start looking for the plane as soon as possible. It's nothing but frozen tundra up there, neither the crew nor Kendra Canmore can survive in that cold for long."
Brooklyn's eyes flared white for a moment, "Your right, Demona wouldn't care that her scheming put others in danger, she only cares about herself. I hope they find them soon and that their alright."
Elise felt a spurt of anger toward Demona as she watched Angela's shoulders slump as she turned and went down the stairs without saying anything to either condemn or defend her mother. Broadway was right behind her hovering anxiously. There was nothing Demona could say to excuse how she had used her daughter, and this situation was just hurting the young gargoyle even more.
They reached the location Demona had chosen for their next stopping point a few hours before daybreak, just as the redheaded gargoyle had estimated they would. They had left the river they had been traveling beside the day before to follow a smaller branching stream southward. Currently they were approximately seventy-five miles directly northeast of a lake called Lac Misassini on the map.
Demona landed next to Kendra and pointed at the herd of sleeping caribou just visible in the distance, "I'll scatter the herd and drive one of them towards this location, we can bring it down if we work together," she whispered.
Kendra had already scented the herd. She would have been very cautious about trying to split out one of the five hundred pound animals by herself, but with Demona helping, she was more than willing to make the attempt. She dipped her muzzle indicating her agreement with the gargoyle's plan.
Demona circled above the herd a few times scanning through the animals for one that looked weak or injured; on the second circle she found her target, an adult male with fresh blood visible on its hindquarters. The flame-haired gargoyle dove, screaming fiercely. The sleeping caribou herd responded to the sudden attack from above with utter panic, lurching to their feet with alarmed snorts and scattering immediately in all directions. Skillfully Demona separated the injured animal and set it running toward where she had left Kendra. Scanning the ground the gargoyle saw the great cat crouched ready to spring.
As the animal passed her, Kendra sprinted and leapt onto the caribou's back digging her claws into it and lunging forward to bite through the animal's skull. Even as she killed it, the animal stumbled from the unexpected weight upon its back, crashing headfirst into the ground. Kendra released her prey and sprang forward gracefully, taking a few running paces while her prey's momentum caused its body to somersault once hindquarter over antlered head before coming to rest behind her.
The animal was still thrashing dangerously when Demona landed. She stopped beyond the reach of its flailing hooves and grinned at Kendra. "I thought you were going to end up underneath it for a moment there, but I should have known you would be agile enough to avoid that." Demona had expected Kendra to need help bringing down such a large animal. The fact that she had been able to pierce the animal's skull and bring it down alone emphasized to Demona exactly how powerful her companion was in jaguar form. The gargoyle paused, and then continued, "You are an amazing warrior, this should have been a difficult journey, but it's starting to feel more like a vacation with you along," she admitted.
Kendra was both surprised and pleased by Demona's praise. She rumbled her pleasure and swung close enough to the gargoyle to brush affectionately against her legs before proceeding onto the body of their kill.
Demona begin skillfully dressing the animal once its death throes had finished, and to Kendra's surprise took some of the fatty organ meat to eat raw. Correctly identifying Kendra's puzzled glance even while she was in cat form, Demona commented, "I need the extra energy as well, and I can digest it in my true form." They dragged the carcass to the tree line before stopping. Demona, after glancing at the lightening skyline, started preparing a shelter similar to the one they had made the day before.
Demona told Kendra, "Go ahead and start eating, I will take care of the shelter. I can tell you need more food than I do to maintain yourself in that form, especially at the pace we're keeping." Kendra nodded and began tearing into the caribou's flank. Demona was just able to bind together several saplings to form the supports for the shelter and dig a fire pit before her transformation. As soon as she recovered, Dominique pulled on her winter gear and grabbed the survival knife to cut pine boughs to weave through the support poles. Ten minutes later Kendra finished eating and promptly shifted into human form to help the redhead finish completing the shelter.
Once the shelter was finished, they spread out the blankets and lay down. Kendra was pleased when Dominique promptly snuggled up against her. She gently pulled the redhead into her arms, and smiled when Dominique covered the arms resting about her midriff with her own. They fell asleep quickly in the cocoon of their combined warmth.
Kendra dreamed as she slept, she was standing in the Mayan ruins where she found and tried to aid the jaguar. A dark haired, dark eyed woman stepped into the room and greeted her, "Kendra, I see you have done well with my gift. I knew you were the right choice for my successor. Now it is time for you to begin learning more about your abilities, you are capable of much more as a Jaguar warrior priestess than merely changing into your jaguar form. Would you like to learn all that I can teach you young jaguar?"
"Gift?" Kendra repeated, surprised. She examined the woman curiously, and saw the jaguar that she had freed within the human form of the woman. With growing excitement she asked, "How did I become like you are? I remember looking into your eyes, and then nothing until I woke covered in blood."
The woman nodded, "That was my blood on you; I gave up my physical body so I could pass my abilities on to you. I have been waiting for you to be ready to learn more for years. Only recently have you integrated your jaguar and human self enough for you to be able to learn what I have to teach you." She asked again, "Would you like to learn all that I can teach you young jaguar?"
"Yes," agreed Kendra immediately.
The woman smiled, she looked into Kendra's eyes and the lessons began. She did not say anything she did not need to, Kendra's head spun with images, feelings and words as the jaguar woman explained what she was to her.
Finally, the images ceased and the jaguar woman said, "I see the foul greenish tinge of fey magic upon your companion, it is wrapped so tightly about her that it strangles her very soul." She shook her head sadly, "She is enslaved by their magic though she does not realize it." The priestess stared into her eyes, "You must tell her, I will show you and you must tell her what you see."
"I will," promised Kendra taken aback by the forceful tone. "But," she asked, confused, "What are the Fey? And what do you mean by they have enslaved her?" she grew more concerned and angered as she considered what the priestess was saying. Who were these Fey and how were they enslaving Demona?
"Look," the dark haired priestess waved her hand. The temple wall behind her became misty and Kendra could see herself and Dominique sleeping in the shelter. "Look at her and look into her," directed the priestess.
Kendra looked, and then shuddered, sickly green pulsing strands wrapped around and through the gargoyles human form binding it like prey wrapped in a spider's silk, helpless and awaiting the spider. "What is that!" she snarled.
"Fey magic," spat the priestess, her voice pure distaste. "The sorcery she spoke of that grants her immortality is actually fey magic. Look closely, these are those spells." She made a motion toward the slumbering figure and certain of the green lines highlighted brightly for a brief moment. "It is also fey magic that allows her to take on a human form instead of going into stone sleep as well," she motioned again and different lines lit up. "The remainders are various manipulation and binding spells. Unfortunately I lack the knowledge of how to free her from them without disrupting the immortality spell that keeps her alive."
Kendra protested, "But there must be some way to free her!" she couldn't believe that there was nothing that could be done to help Demona. She couldn't go to the gargoyle and tell her this and then be able to offer no hope of freeing herself from these enchantments.
The priestess was silent for a long moment; the she said thoughtfully, "Perhaps there is a spirit that will help us. He hates the Fey for hunting his children until there were no more, and knowledge of the gargoyles enslavement may move him to lend his aid to her. I will seek him out and ask. As for your second question, the Fey are the youngest of the three races, they are powerful and immortal, and too many of their kind believe humans and gargoyles are nothing more than their toys to be pampered or destroyed at their whim. Even the best of them do not believe that our mortal lives have as much worth and value as their own immortal ones, they simply do not make a sport of toying with us."
Kendra stared at her appalled, and then memory kicked in, "The Sidhe?" she questioned, "They're actually real?" Her gaze, sharpened, "Though it sounds more like your describing the Seelie and Unseelie." She shuddered at the thought, though she did not remember much about the tales but she seemed to remember a tale of the Unseelie Hunt turning men into deer and then setting their hounds after them. Then they laughed, drank and made merry as the helpless men were hunted until they could run no more whereupon they were mercilessly torn apart.
"My people did not call them by those names, but from your memories I can tell those are your people's names for them," the jaguar priestess affirmed. "And yes the worst of them did those things, they can be very cruel."
Kendra felt a chill run through her, "But I don't understand," she protested. "Those tales are from centuries ago. How can they still exist and we haven't heard anything about them?" she asked.
"Do not doubt that youngest race still exists, they can take any shape or form and walk freely among the mortal races," the priestess assured Kendra sternly. "As for why there are no tales of them in the recent centuries, their leader, Oberon, forbid them from interfering in mortal lives once humans became numerous enough that it was a possibility we might rise up against their tyranny and destroy them. Though the Fey are immortal the tales you have heard are correct, they can be wounded or killed by cold iron."
Kendra looked through the misty wall at Dominique, "But if they are forbidden from interfering how?" she indicated the redhead's green wrapped form.
"Most Fey obey the spirit of Oberon's wishes, but some resent being forbidden their sport and seek ways of bending his rule so that they could still play their old games. It seems obvious that she was found by one of those willing to bend or ignore Oberon's law." The priestess answered.
Kendra stared at her newfound mentor, "How do you know all of this?" she wondered.
The dark haired priestess smiled grimly, "We have always been immune to fey magic, and unless we make ourselves known they cannot tell what we actually are, also if we are in the form of our animal spirit we can kill them with our natural weapons be those talon, tooth, claw, hoof or horn. They hate and fear us because of these three reasons. In the past, there have been battles between Fey and shaman that have ended in the death of one or the other. Mostly we avoid each other, unless the Fey in question is playing their games with someone, then we usually come into conflict with them. It is not required for you to oppose their meddling, but most shamans will choose to because such meddling is directly opposed to our beliefs."
"Never take life to sustain yourself without respecting the life it gave for you to live. Revere Mother Earth for giving and sustaining all life, in all things seek to protect her and live in harmony with her. Know that each life has inherent worth and never harm a life for harm's sake. Avoid practicing magic on another without their full consent and if possible teach them how instead of doing yourself." Kendra repeated the central values she had learned from the priestess earlier.
The jaguar woman smiled at her in approval. Then with a more serious manner she commanded, "Build a sweat lodge by the river, and bring your companion with you into the spirit realm tonight. Hopefully I will return with assistance, if not I will help her as I am able, and I will continue to seek those more knowledgeable about fey magic than myself."
The jaguar priestess transformed, in her place there was a truly majestic jaguar that dwarfed Kendra's own jaguar shape. The jaguar's green eyes stared at her appraisingly for what seemed like hours before it rumbled its approval and it and the temple disappeared into mist.
Kendra woke, and jerked upright looking around wildly for a moment, confused at the change in her surroundings. Dominique woke as well and looked around ready to fight then seeing nothing asked, "What is it?"
Kendra looked around their shelter once again still not feeling quite awake. "I've been getting lessons from the priestess that gave me my jaguar spirit," she answered.
Dominique gave her a sharp, questioning look, "What do you mean?"
Kendra was feeling more awake by the second, "I was back at the temple, the temple where I found the jaguar. There was a Spanish woman there she told me that she gave up her physical body to give me my jaguar self. She called herself a jaguar warrior priestess."
The redhead was silent for a long moment, considering both Kendra and what she had just said. "Shamanism," Dominique concluded in a satisfied tone.
Kendra smiled remembering their conversation, "Yes, shamanistic transformation magic, she turned into what I guess was my jaguar spirit guide just before the dream ended. Before that though, she taught me about what I am now, about what being a shaman means and how I'm supposed to conduct myself as a jaguar priestess." She finished more seriously thinking about the Fey and the enchantments that bound Dominique.
"Such as?" asked the redhead curiously.
Well, in addition to the strength, quickness and fast healing, I will only age for a few more years and then I will stop getting physically older. I won't die until I chose a successor to pass my gift to just as she passed hers to me." Kendra answered.
Dominique stared at Kendra, "You're immortal?"
Kendra shrugged, "I am until I find a successor, but that will probably not be for quite awhile since I'm just learning what I am. I got the feeling from her that each jaguar priestess usually lives several hundred years before they decide to move on."
Dominique looked thoughtful, "I had wondered if you were immortal after you died and then came back to life on the plane I guess Macbeth and I haven't been the only immortal's around for the past thousand years." Dominique looked at Kendra and smiled saying, "Welcome to the club, it will be nice to have another immortal around besides Macbeth." The redhead gave Kendra a thoughtful look after saying that but didn't say anything further. Kendra could guess that Dominique was thinking of how this new revelation affected their newly begun intimacy, and she wondered if it would be a mark in her favor or against.
She really couldn't put this off for much longer, Kendra decided, there was just the question of how to bring the subject up. "We also spoke of the Fey; I didn't even know the Sidhe were anything more than tales until she confirmed that they actually exist."
"The Fey," Dominique repeated confused, "Why did she mention them?"
"Because we seem to be something of natural enemies, she told me I can injure or kill one while in jaguar form, no cold iron needed. We are also immune to fey magic, it doesn't affect shamans. She really didn't have anything nice to say about them; the most she would allow is that some of them at least don't see us as play toys to be treated as their whim leads them." By the end of her statement Kendra's voice had gained a hint of a growl as she remembered their conversation. She looked up to see the redhead staring at her surprised. "Mostly though what brought up the conversation about the Fey and their ways was you," Kendra's voice softened.
"Me?" Dominique frowned. "Ah the shape change spell and the immortality spell that binds Macbeth and I together," she realized.
Kendra shook her head, "No not just those, she taught me how to see fey magic." Kendra concentrated as the priestess had taught her and looked into Dominique. "I wish I could show you what I am seeing, how much of the strands bind around and thru you, there is scarcely any space I can see within you that does not have a strand of green crawling through it."
Dominique recoiled from Kendra's suddenly all too piercing gaze, "What do you mean!" she snapped hiding her sudden unease with anger.
Kendra's eyes focused upon Dominique's green ones, "The priestess told me that she saw manipulation and binding spells upon you, not just the shape-change and immortality ones. The Fey you and Macbeth dealt with did far more than they told you when they bound you together."
"You can't know that," the redhead protested, refusing to listen to what she did not want to hear or even consider.
"I believe I can," Kendra said softly, "She even showed me which particular ones they were," Kendra's gaze unfocused once again as she made a motion with her hand in the air.
Dominique gasped, feeling something twitch briefly inside her in response to Kendra's gesture.
The newly minted shaman froze, "Did you feel that?" she asked uncertainly.
"I felt something," Dominique admitted, feeling both reassured by Kendra's obvious dismay that the woman hadn't meant to do anything to her, and a dawning fear that what Kendra was saying might be just be real. The three witches might have done much more to her than just binding her and Macbeth's lives together.
"I'm sorry," Kendra immediately apologized. "I didn't realize that you would feel anything, you didn't seem to when she did it in my dream."
The redhead pushed aside her fears and smirked at this, "You need to ask her to demonstrate the spell again then. What were you trying to do?"
"Well I did do it, they did light up, I'm just not sure why you felt it," Kendra answered. "I was causing the fey enchantments that allow you to be human during the day to brighten, so I could see which ones they were separate from all the others," she explained.
Her attention brought back to the reason for this conversation, Dominique's fears returned in full measure. This time though she didn't get angry with Kendra, "Tell me exactly what you remember of what she said to you," the redhead insisted.
Kendra cast her mind back to when the priestess had begun talking about fey magic, she couldn't remember the conversation verbatim, but she repeated to Dominique everything that she could remember.
"What ancient animal spirit? And how am I supposed to get into the spirit realm to meet him providing that he agrees?" asked Dominique when Kendra finished speaking.
The black haired woman shrugged, "I don't know, she didn't say, only what I told you, that his children were killed off by the Fey. As to how you accompany me into the spirit realm that's easy, it will take some work to build a sweat lodge and find a drum for me to use, but after that it won't be difficult at all."
Dominique stared at Kendra nonplused, a sweat lodge?
Kendra glanced outside, gauging the remaining daylight, "I would like to see if we can manage it today, let's see if we can't get everything ready by sundown. I think we have four or five hours until then. I can use saplings and sod blocks for the lodge, it doesn't have to be big for this. The next problem is to build a large fire and start the rocks heating. And I need to find a hollow log or something suitable for drumming."
Dominique paused startled, both at the list and Kendra's enthusiasm for the project, "I don't know if it can be done by today, but why not give it a try." She said feeling a slowly building interest of her own.
She didn't know what to think about Kendra's claim that there were numerous manipulation and binding spells upon her. She didn't want to believe it, but she knew the Weird Sisters had enchanted her and Macbeth and used them to attack Angela and her rookery brothers and sisters upon Avalon. Angela had told her about her actions on Avalon during Demona's imprisonment in the Labyrinth, though personally she remembered nothing of that time. Though she didn't want to, she had to entertain the idea that the priestess that Kendra had met might be right, and if she was then Demona wanted to meet this spirit who could help her break those enchantments. She didn't want to think of the Weird Sisters being able to enchant her to do whatever they wished again, it was outrageous enough they had done it the one time.
Kendra nodded, "First let's choose a spot for the lodge." They were not far from the stream they had been following southward. Kendra marked out a spot by the stream bank and began carving the soil into blocks using the survival knife and laying them aside. She cleared out a foot deep five-foot radius circle then went to gather poles to use to support the sides of the building.
Dominique worked at building the fire pit and gathering wood to supply it. As the redhead worked on the fire pit Kendra started placing the poles firmly into the ground at the edge of where she had dug out a circle for the lodge, once the poles were in place Kendra bent them in together at the top and tied them together. By this time, Dominique had build up a large bonfire and set it afire to burn down into coals.
"It seems like what we are lacking now is a drum," Dominique observed. "Anything you can pound and get a sound from will do, such as a hollow tree? We don't have time to cure a hide to use as a drumhead."
Glancing up from where she was weaving branches around the poles to form a barrier against the sod, Kendra answered, "Anything that makes a drum like noise will do."
They had two more hours of daylight left when Dominique came back with a bit of hollowed out log and two thick sticks; she pounded on the log and looked at Kendra for her approval. Kendra listened to the sound and nodded in satisfaction, "That will do."
Kendra was half way done with the lodge and the bonfire was burning into coals at this point. Dominique took the rocks she had collected and rolled them into the coals to heat and then helped Kendra complete the lodge. Peering inside Dominique saw the depression the hot rocks would rest in and noticed that Kendra had covered the dirt floor with pine needles for them to sit on. In the meantime, Kendra returned from the shelter with one of the blankets and a pot for them to use to hold water for the heated rocks. The two of them stared with satisfaction for a few minutes at the completed lodge before going down to the stream to wash their hands and faces.
Dominique disappeared into the shelter before sun went down to change into her halter-top and loincloth. She emerged just in time for her change to take place screaming in pain as simultaneously her wings erupted from her back, her feet and hands changed to talons, and her skin darkened into blue. The immortal gargoyle snarled at the sky and flared her wings before calming, the red glow disappearing from her eyes.
Kendra walked over to her, asking gently, "Are you ready?"
Demona wanted to say no, her emotions were a stirred up mixture of fear, curiosity and resoluteness. She both wanted and didn't want to face whatever it was that she was going to find out tonight. Finally she responded curtly, "I'm ready," she crouched and crawled into the sweat lodge.
Kendra handed the redheaded gargoyle two sticks, "Use these to guide the stones into the pit," she instructed. The black-haired women rolled four rocks from the fire using her own sticks and then pushed them carefully into the lodge. Once they were at the lodge opening Demona took over and rolled them into the pit inside the lodge. Kendra grabbed the drumming log and sticks, placed them inside the lodge and then handed Demona the water filled pot. Finally, she stripped down to her underwear and laid her clothes next to the fire and entered the lodge herself and pulled the blanket down, only leaving a small gap for light. She took the pot from Demona and poured some of the water over the rocks letting the hot steam fill the closed in space. Then she started drumming and chanting.
Demona stared at the black haired woman in wonder for Kendra was chanting in no language the gargoyle recognized. The novice shamaness stared intently into Demona's green eyes as she chanted. The immortal gargoyle found herself ensnared by the Kendra's blue gaze and abruptly she was standing next to the stream where the sweat lodge was located. Demona looked around for the lodge and saw the shadowy outline of it as well as the shadow forms of Kendra and herself sitting inside. She turned around and saw Kendra standing next to her; strangely, somehow she could also see the woman's jaguar form at the same time. She stared back at the shadowy form of the lodge fascinated at the fact that she was seeing the ghostly outline of the real world here in the spirit realm.
Kendra stared at something behind the gargoyle and Demona turned to see what had attracted the black haired woman's attention. A dark eyed, dark haired woman now stood next to them. This must be the priestess that Kendra had spoken about the gargoyle realized. The dark haired woman was staring at the gargoyle, a concerned, thoughtful frown upon her face. If Demona already hadn't had a good idea what might prompt such an expression she would have snapped at the woman for it.
"I am pleased to see you here," the priestess greeted them. She then turned and addressed Demona specifically, "The Ancient One already knew of you, and has agreed to meet you," she hesitated, "there is also another spirit that is curious about you and would like to meet you as well if you permit it."
The immortal gargoyle was surprised, how had this Ancient One already known of her? And who was this other spirit that wanted to meet her? "Very well," she agreed uncertainly.
"Good," the priestess responded obviously pleased, "She is very wise and knowledgeable about all forms of magic."
Demona was about to insist that the priestess tell her exactly what type of spirit she was talking about when the dark haired woman turned around and looked expectantly toward the east.
Out of the trees, gracefully stepped a very large stag with antlers unlike any the immortal gargoyle had ever seen before. Demona stared at it in astonishment; in size, the stag dwarfed the caribou they had brought down earlier and she guessed that it stood over seven feet tall at the top of its shoulders. Its antlers had wide thick flattened areas or palms, reminding her somewhat of the antlers of moose and she guessed the stag's antlers reached twelve or so foot in total width. How it had managed to make its way through the forest with such antlers she could not even begin to guess.
"Holy," exclaimed Kendra from beside her, she feel silent for a moment and then she muttered in a much quieter voice, "Its Bambi's dad on steroids."
Demona felt a grin tugging at her lips at that comment. What breed of deer was this? She recalled that Kendra had said that the ancient spirit's children had been hunted to extinction by the Fey, and she wondered if this stag was the ancient spirit that had agreed to help her. That would explain why she had never seen any animal like this, the smile fell from her lips and she felt a sharp pang of regret at the thought. She wondered what it would have been like to see herds of these magnificent creatures roaming through the hills of Scotland. She knew what it was like to be hunted almost to extinction, but to be utterly alone, to know that no others existed of your kind.
As the animal stepped closer with dignified grace, Demona noticed Kendra subtly edging away from her, eyeing the stag with obvious wariness. She glanced at the black haired woman, concerned, and then she smirked. She leaned over and whispered, "Certainly you weren't thinking of trying to hunt him?"
Kendra shook her head vigorously, "Not this little kitty, nope," she whispered back.
A snort from the stag indicated that they had not been quiet enough to escape being overheard, "Fear not young jaguar, I know you intend me no harm." The stag's tone was resonantly deep, and clearly amused.
Kendra eyed the giant stag's horns and sharp hooves; it didn't take much of an imagination to figure out what they would do to her even in her jaguar shape. "Good, I definitely wouldn't want you to think for even a nanosecond that I was any threat at all," she replied earnestly.
The priestess smiled and shook her head at this, before turning to face the giant stag, "Greetings Ancient One," she said respectfully. "This is the one I told you about," she indicated the gargoyle.
"Demona, yes I have seen this gargoyle in the past and upon Avalon a short time ago," the stag stated.
The immortal gargoyle stared up into the giant deer's wise brown eyes, "How?" she asked, then she looked around her, "the spirit realm it touches Avalon as well."
"Yes, the spirit realm touches Avalon" the stag confirmed, "I am sorry I could aid neither you nor the human male called Macbeth. Without an intermediary, such as your companion," he nodded toward Kendra, "to act through, we cannot affect the living world from here."
"You were there," Demona stared at the stag, agitated, "You saw those witches make me attack our clan's children, attack my own daughter," her eyes flared red.
"I have watched them for eons, I watched helpless as they hunted down and killed my children for sport even as our numbers dwindled due to starvation. I watched as they killed the last of us and then regretted only the fact that there were no more of us to hunt," the great stag spoke with great sorrow. "After that I watched them, and learned about them."
"And though he has not interacted with the world since his people died, he has shared with the rest of us everything he has learned from watching them. Through our chosen ones the knowledge he has gained has been used against them," a voice from above startled Demona. This must be the second spirit, the redheaded gargoyle realized as a large eagle owl swooped down from above, its feathers black and white barred. "Might I trouble you for a perch Ancient One? I so dislike taking off from the ground," the owl requested politely as she hovered in the air.
"You may," the stag agreed.
"Thank you," the Eagle Owl alighted near the center of the great stag's antlers and turned her luminous amber eyes upon Demona, staring at her in such an intense way that the gargoyle felt uncomfortable.
"Wise One," the priestess greeted the owl.
"Jaguar's chosen," the owl dipped her head toward the priestess as she acknowledged her. Then the owl turned her attention back to the gargoyle. "You were right," the owl announced, "She does have a rather fascinating assortment of fey magic upon her." The owl turned her head sideways as if that helped her get a better look at the gargoyle. "What a smorgasbord, there's enchantments, compulsion spells," the volume of the owl's voice dropped and it became obvious that the owl was mumbling to herself as she continued listing the types of fey magic she was seeing, "manipulation spells, binding spells, shape changing, healing spells, binding enchantments " The owl's head twisted around in the other direction as if getting a different angle would help, "There's even some I don't recognize, and the subtlety of them is so unusual, the Fey usually don't bother with it." The Eagle Owl sounded entranced with what she was seeing.
Demona snarled, her eyes glowing red, "I'm not here for you to study me; I'm not some specimen of yours." She was angry, and she was frightened. The litany of enchantments and spells the owl had rattled off, and the things she had said afterward why would the Weird Sisters have gone to that type of effort? What had they done to her that everyone, even Kendra, was able to see, but she wasn't?
The owl's head swiveled immediately upright, "I beg your pardon," she apologized softly, "Of course you are not. You are here because you seek help, and my help you shall definitely receive." The owl vowed.
The gargoyles eyes returned to normal as her anger faded.
"And mine;" the majestic stag assured her, "However, the question before us now is how to proceed? The enchantments upon her are intricate, and I do not understand the purpose of all of them. The ones that bind her and the human male together are all that sustain her life, if we dissolve the wrong enchantment we will kill her instead of aiding her," the stag pointed out grimly.
"True," replied the owl thoughtfully, "they do seem to all be wrapped around and tied together don't they. We will have to unsnarl each one to see what it does and how it's connected with the rest before teaching her how to dissolve them."
The great stag stared thoughtfully at Demona, "She needs to see first, she needs to see what we see," the stag paused, and continued in a compassionate tone, "She needs to understand what was done to her and why."
The owl bobbed her head looking very agitated, "Are you sure?" she asked. Demona thought she sounded uncertain, "From what you have told me the truth will not be kind to her." The owl let out a mournful cry, "Not very kind at all. Are you certain that is where you wish to start?" the owl asked again.
Demona wanted to break in and ask what the two spirits were talking about, certainly she deserved to know what the Weird Sisters had done to her and why they had done it. Didn't she? She glanced uncertainly at the owl who was staring at her with such obvious compassion.
"Wishing," the stag pawed at the ground sharply, "I wish my children were still running across the grasslands but they are not," he breathed in deeply. "I do not wish to start with the why of it, but that is where we must start, otherwise she will not trust us and will fight us even if it is only unconsciously. She has no reason to trust us any more than she does the Fey," the stag pointed out. "She must know the truth, she must know the why to know who she can trust and who she cannot."
The owl snapped her beak together, and Demona couldn't discern whether this indicated the owl was angry or upset.
"You have a valid point," the owl still sounded reluctant, "Very well, we shall start there."
Demona finally broke in, asking in frustration, "Start where?!"
The two spirits focused their attention back upon her. It was the great stag that answered, "By returning the memories that are currently denied you. The three fey did not take them away, they simply cast a spell on you and the human to deny you access to them."
"My memories of Avalon," Demona whispered suddenly understanding.
"And before," the great stag added.
The gargoyles eyes widened slightly, she had known that there were several days missing but hadn't known that there were days missing before she had been taken to Avalon.
"Do you wish to have your past returned to you, to regain the memories rightfully yours that the three fey sisters denied you?" the great stag asked in a formal manner.
"Yes I do," she responded immediately, She had never liked the fact that there were days missing from her memory. The memories might be unpleasant, but she deserved to know what had happened.
The stag inclined its antlered head for a moment, then raised it again. It stared at her for a long searching moment, "The Eagle Owl spirit is correct, these memories returning them to you is a necessity, not a gift, for I am certain what you are about to remember will wound you deeply. I wish you to know that I will help you determine the truth of your past. You no longer stand alone against the ones you call the Weird Sisters."
The owl fluffed her wings, "Well said," she complemented the stag, "I will add my own assurances of aid to the Ancient One's, you no longer stand alone in this battle."
Demona stared at the two spirits, not knowing quite how to respond. Frantic questions raced through her mind asking what events were in these memories that would cause the two to feel as if they had to reassure her before returning them.
She felt Kendra's warm presence by her side just before the black haired woman spoke, "I too am here for you. Whatever you remember and I think it's become pretty damn clear to both of us that it's not going to be pleasant; I will help you deal with it as much as you will let me. I will not leave you alone in this just as I would not leave you earlier."
Kendra's blue eyes were resolute and determined as they met Demona's own startled gaze. The gargoyle felt a rush of warm affection for the woman beside her. She felt confident that Kendra would be with her. Whatever it was that she about to face, Kendra would not desert her, it was simply not who the woman was. The gargoyle turned leaned against Kendra responding automatically to the mixture of warmth, gentle concern, caring and fierce protectiveness she felt from the woman. Strong arms wrapped around her and Demona reveled in the warm embrace for a few moments before realizing one essential thing. She was feeling Kendra's emotions. Her green eyes opened startled, and met equally surprised blue ones.
"What?" they uttered together.
"This is the spirit realm," the priestess's voice drew both of their attention, "In the case of strongly held emotions you are able to feel them if you are the cause of them, such as what, I gather from your actions, you are currently feeling from each other."
Kendra reached up and stroked the flame-red, wild hair, "Well good," she said, "I'm glad that you know I'm serious about being here for you." She met Demona's gaze calmly.
The gargoyle smiled, "I do." Kendra's calm acceptance helped quell her own unease at the thought of her emotions being felt by anyone else, even if it was the person who was the cause of them in the first place.
Turning back to the great stag, she took in a deep steadying breath. Now that she knew that she was not only feeling her own emotions, she could discern Kendra's sure, steady strength beside her. It gave her courage, and her voice was admirably even given the level of anxiety she was feeling as she said, "I am ready to remember, dissolve the enchantments."
Demona felt a moment of dizziness then
She was standing still as stone, unable to do anything but stare stiffly straight ahead. She wasn't even certain where she was, except that she was indoors within a room hung with ornate tapestries.
Selene appeared in front of her, the black haired fey's eyes were cold as they examined her. "So it begins, we will finally get our revenge upon the human sorcerer and his companions for their insult against us and their trespass upon Avalon. Mortals have no place upon our fair isle."
Another of the sisters spoke from behind her, "We use one mortal sorcerer against another, the Archmage has been useful in allowing us to bend Oberon's law."
"What of our soldiers, are they ready for their task?" the white haired Luna appeared just within her field of vision.
"As the Archmage instructed, they are filled with bitterness and hatred, and they are bound to no living thing save each other. They are strong and skilled warriors and will attack without mercy whomever we instruct them to," Selene smiled coldly.
"But first they have other tasks to perform," Luna spoke next.
Demona remembered stealing the Grimorum Arcanorum, the Phoenix Gate and the Eye of Odin, from Goliath while Coldstone kept the clan distracted, with the help of Macbeth. She remembered standing with Macbeth by a table upon which were the three magical items, staring at them confused as to why she had obtained them.
"But why did we steal these things? And how did we even know where to find them?" Demona asked Macbeth.
He moved to grab the Grimorum from her hands and after a short back and forth struggle with the book she finally let him take it. He put it back on the table and turned to her glaring, "For that matter why are we working together now?" he asked aggressively.
She growling at him, and he went for the chair by the table. Then she couldn't move, just as before. "It seems we have arrived just in time my sisters." She heard one of the Weird Sisters say.
Selene appeared within her field of vision, "The spell we placed on these two was about to wear off."
Another sister that she couldn't see replied, "You can only compel someone to act against their nature for so long."
The other two sisters stepped next to Selene who was staring at she and Macbeth coolly, "Was it wise to release Coldstone?" she asked.
Phoebe commented, "Perhaps we could have found a way to place a spell on him as well."
The white haired Luna authoritatively, "We do not need Coldstone. These will do quite nicely in the coming battle."
The three sisters raised their arms together and Demona felt a magical wind stir and then the room disappeared and they were standing upon a barge, two Archmages were waiting for them.
The sisters gave the Archmage that looked like Demona remembered from nine hundred years ago the Eye of Odin. The magical artifact bound to him upon his brow and he transformed, now he more closely resembled the second Archmage that stood beside him. The sisters gave him the book, and impossibly opening his mouth wide, the first Archmage swallowed the Grimorum making it part of himself so that he could take its magic with him onto Avalon. Finally, the sisters gave him the Phoenix Gate. Now the two Archmages looked exactly alike.
The mist rose again and now they were by a lake bordered by high cliffs. To her right were steps leading up to a stone rotunda. The Weird Sisters lead Macbeth and she up the steps to the rotunda, a small pool filled the center of it.
It was daylight, and Demona was in human form, the Archmage insisted that they wait until sunset to begin their attack upon the Magus. The Weird Sisters left upon some errand, leaving Macbeth and she alone with the two Archmages.
One of the Archmages stalked towards her still form, "This beast betrayed me," he hissed staring at her balefully. "I showed her kindness by agreeing to teach her to read, seeing that she was more cunning than the others of her kind. I even taught her rudimentary spells, and in return for that, she split the Phoenix Gate in two and gave half to that other beast she mated with instead of giving it to me! I told her were to find it, I ordered her to bring it to me and she disobeyed me," he spat. Vindictively he continued, "I should have left her wallowing in the filth of her own ignorance like the other beasts. I was mistaken when I thought that she would be useful to me." Demona felt chilled and afraid, she was completely unable to move, helpless in the face of the Archmage's hatred.
He circled around her, "And then to add insult to injury she betrayed me a second time, she was one of the beasts who followed me, who stole the Grimorum from me and almost caused my death." He paused, "Would have caused my death if it weren't for myself," he laughed.
Suddenly he stopped, "You said we were doing her no favors by choosing her as one of our cannon fodder, what did you mean? I want vengeance upon her as well as upon Goliath."
The second Archmage rose, "Don't you remember our specific instructions regarding these two?" he smiled cruelly.
"To make sure they remain powerful warriors, the Weird Sisters were to make sure their lives were filled with bitterness and hatred. Bitterness and hatred make warriors that are hard and merciless. They were to make sure they did not become contented with their immortality, or concerned with descendants or lovers that might make them soft, compassionate. They were to make sure they remained alone, that they had no ties to anyone but each other, and that the ties that bound them together were ones of enmity." The first Archmage repeated, "Why those words, how does that give us our revenge for her betrayal of me." He spoke to the second Archmage shaking a pointing finger in her face.
The second Archmage laughed, it was a cold, cruel sound. "This beast has lived a thousand years. A thousand years of hating, a thousand years of bitterness, a thousand years of being completely alone. A thousand years of our revenge, a thousand years of repayment for her betrayal."
The first Archmage stared at her, and then he smiled, "I see." A few seconds later, his face fell, "But she does not know why, until she knows this was her punishment I have not had my revenge," he snarled at the second Archmage.
"Patience," counseled the second Archmage, "When the Magus and his companions are destroyed, when Goliath is dead, then we will have the Weird Sisters lift their compulsion. Then she will know the full cost of her betrayal. She will know how foolish she was to have disobeyed and betrayed me." The two of them turned and stared at her, and if she could have, she would have recoiled from the gloating satisfaction in each of their eyes.
The second Archmage, finally stopped glaring at her, turning to the first to say, "The only thing better would have been if I could have broken the enchantment upon Goliath and set them at each other. I'm certain that the Weird Sisters could have used what happened at Wyvern Castle to do it, unfortunately though I couldn't figure out how, so I had to make do with Macbeth."
The first Archmage observed, "That is unfortunate. I guess we shall just have to be content with killing him now." The two looked at each other and then laughed manically. Even as their laughter chilled her, she wondered how they planned to kill Goliath when as far as she knew he was still in Manhattan.
The Weird Sisters lead the attack upon the castle the Magus had claimed for his own, breaching the outer wall with their magic immediately after the sunset. There were gargoyles inside, she had not known there were any on Avalon, but there was nothing she could do, rage as she might against the enchantments that bound her. They attacked firing at those in the castle even as they asked who they were.
Silently, trapped in her own mind, Demona screamed out in protest as one of her shots when through a teal colored female's wing, wounding her badly. A pale green colored male swooped in and struggled to pull her weapon away from her, she slashed at his wings feeling the skin tear as she drove him away. She raged at attacking them at all, but at least she had not yet landed any killing blow. To her relief, magic surrounded her summoning her away from the attack.
Selene began protesting immediately, "Why did you call us off?
The Archmage replied arrogantly as if lecturing a student, "If we wait until dawn the gargoyles will be stone. Three puny humans will be all that stand between us and victory." He smiled, "Besides I need to give them time to bring Goliath to the island, my vengeance would not be complete without him," he ended spitefully.
Demona didn't know whether to wish Goliath away or hope that he was indeed coming here. As stupid as she thought her ex-mate was, he was still a magnificent warrior and he might be able to protect the other gargoyles from Macbeth and her.
Time passed as the Weird Sisters and the two Archmages stared into the pool in the middle of the rotunda. Finally, the Archmage reached down and stirred the water and announced, "Finally all the pieces are now in place, Goliath and his clan are doomed."
One of the Archmages left on an errand. Time passed while the Sisters and the remaining Archmage stared into the pool. The Archmage rose, apparently having seen in the pool whatever he had been waiting upon, "Finally, now the real fun begins," he said smiling, and then he broke out into the maniacal laughter she was beginning to expect from him.
Macbeth and she were sent out to intercept Goliath. Demona stepped into the bushes beside the path and waited for her former mate to arrive. She breathed out a sigh of relief and felt a wave of fierce satisfaction when she felt the stick she had spotted moments ago now underneath her left foot. It was not long before she spotted Goliath and two younger gargoyles moving quickly down the path toward the rotunda. Purposefully not thinking about what she was doing, she shifted her weight and the stick cracked with a loud snap underneath her foot.
The younger blonde male stopped, Goliath and the lavender female pulled up looking towards him curiously. "I heard something over there," the young male said, pointing toward where Demona was hidden. "Did you hear it?" he asked them.
Goliath and the lavender female both shook their heads. Demona groaned silently, stupid stubborn male. As she knew would happen, Goliath proceeded to ignore the possibility of danger and didn't check to see if the younger male had actually heard anything.
"The grotto is just ahead," the young lavender female announced.
"I'll act as a diversion," Goliath laid out the attack plan, "Retrieve the Eye of Odin and the Phoenix Gate and get out." The younger gargoyles moved off, Goliath called softly after them, "and no heroics."
As the younger two continued following the path toward the Grotto and the rotunda there, Goliath turned off the path and into the woods apparently planning on coming upon the rotunda from the back. Demona's body moved to follow the two gargoyles, the compulsion upon her apparently deciding they were the greater threat. As she followed the most obvious and least concealed route to the path, the immortal gargoyle felt a surge of hope; it seemed to be easier and easier to have some effect on her own body. She deliberately pushed nosily through some bushes, hopefully even her apparently deaf ex-mate couldn't miss this much noise.
She met up with Macbeth and the two of them followed the younger gargoyles who finally stepped off the path to hide behind some bushes approximately fifty feet from the rotunda. Demona had been starting to wonder if the two would just walk directly up to the Archmage. The blue-skinned gargoyle stepped directly behind the two, appalled at how oblivious the two youngsters were to their surroundings.
She pushed the muzzle of weapon lightly into the lavender females back, only to roll her eyes in exasperation as the female turned to the male beside her, complaining softly, "Stop it."
What was Goliath thinking to send such untrained youngsters against the Archmage? Demona thought angrily.
"Hands up and don't move," ordered Macbeth.
Demona was relieved they weren't just firing upon the two, she wasn't certain she could make herself miss at this close range. The youngsters turned around and the immortal gargoyle saw the female's eyes flare red. No, she thought despairingly, as her weapon swung toward the attacking female. Then Goliath was there pushing it aside. She felt a wave of relief, apparently she had finally been loud enough for him to hear.
"These are our clan's children," he said glaring at her. She looked past him at the two youngsters. How had she not realized this before, she wondered, she had seen the Magus and Catherine at the castle, these then were the hatchlings from the eggs she had seen them loading onto carts over nine hundred years ago. Time must flow much slower here.
"Demona, I know you hate humans, but these are innocent gargoyles," Goliath continued.
But she wasn't really listening to him now, she was looking at the young lavender female behind him, the young lavender female whose coloring was an exact match of her ex-mates. She was taking in the young females face, seeing the shape of it, and wondering. Her weapon swung up towards the youngster, her body controlled by the compulsion spell of the Weird Sisters. Everything inside Demona rose up in outraged protest, this female could be Goliath and she's daughter.
"No," she managed to utter her protest aloud; the compulsion snapped allowing her control of her own body after days of enslavement. "Can it be?" she questioned wonderingly, her gaze taking in everything about the young female.
Seeing that she was free Goliath turned to address Macbeth, "And you, Macbeth. Does your much-vaunted sense of honor include the slaughter of innocents?"
Out of the corner of her eye, Demona saw Macbeth's weapon drop and her one time friend's hand raise to his forehead as he doubtless suffered from the same pounding head as she.
"The Archmage is using you," Goliath informed them, as if this were news to them.
Demona was trying to think of a suitable scathing comment, after all how stupid did Goliath think she was, when the Archmages maniacal laughter preceded his appearance.
"Oh your very good Goliath," the Archmage said condescendingly, "But appealing to their better natures won't help you, their my creatures now."
That was all the warning Demona had before her brief moment of freedom was abruptly over.
"I have great plans for you Goliath," the Archmage continued after regaining control over Macbeth and Demona, "But these young ones are expendable."
With a sickening sense of realization, the immortal gargoyle realized that this too was part of the Archmage's revenge upon her; he would force her body to slay her clan's children, to slay her own daughter. It was also his revenge upon Goliath, he would doubtless hold off killing her former mate until all their clan's children were dead, making it clear that Goliath had failed to protect them before finally killing him.
"Destroy them," the Archmage commanded.
Helpless, Demona watched herself raise her weapon; Bronx's attack was never so welcome even as she struggled to keep his jaws away from her. Just before Bronx left off his attack, she heard the younger male gargoyle's voice, "Angela, come on." The small group retreated quickly.
As the Archmage ranted, she savored the knowledge she had just gained, Angela. She wondered who had named her daughter, and if the name gave her some hint of the young females personality. They returned to the rotunda. As the Archmage stared into the pool broodingly, the three Sisters pulled Macbeth and Demona off to the side.
"They broke the compulsion placed upon them," Selene eyed them narrowly.
Luna observed calmly, "They were forced to go directly against their natures. The gargoyles are young and untrained; Macbeth refused attack those unable to defend themselves." She stared at Demona, "And this one has always resisted any compulsion to directly harm another gargoyle."
The yellow haired Phoebe spoke, "Her nature is to protect her own kind. The Archmage thinks to compel her to kill the gargoyles in the castle, but she will continue rebelling against that compulsion. He will be forced to make her a mindless servant before she will obey such an order."
Selene frowned, "The Archmage controls them currently, not us."
Demona could sense them glancing at one another, the three sisters gestured and she could feel the compulsion on her lessen briefly before being replaced.
"We should repair the compulsions on the gargoyle, they have been weakened," observed Luna.
"Will they be needed?" asked Selene coolly. Demona knew full well that the black haired sister was asking if she would live long enough to warrant them bothering. She knew if the Archmage succeeded in his plans that she wouldn't want to live with the knowledge of what he had forced her to do.
"We may have a further use for her," Luna stated.
Phoebe stepped in front of the gargoyle staring into her eyes, "Remember Castle Wyvern, remember what your actions lead to, the slaughter of your clan by the Vikings." Demona remembered, she remembered the brief moment of hope that the Captains plan had succeeded before that hope turned to horror as she turned over the stone fragment of Coldstone's face. "You were the cause of their death, you were the one who helped the Captain of the Guard weaken the castles defenses so that the Vikings could come and kill your clan during the day." Regret and grief welled up inside the gargoyle, but the Sisters did not stop there.
Selene replaced Phoebe, "Remember your clan at Castle Moray, you betrayed Macbeth to Canmore and in return Canmore betrayed you. Canmore found them all and killed them, from the eldest to the youngest. If you had not led him to them they would have lived."
Demona remembered, she remembered Gruoch's words, "Go and search for your kind, then. Search until you and your kind are but a nightmare memory." She remembered the frantic flight back to the cave where the clan had taken shelter, the fragments of their stone forms that she found proof of the woman's words.
Tears welled in the gargoyles eyes and ran down her face, yet there was no mercy no compassion in the gazes of the three sisters that surrounded her. Luna stepped in front of her, "You bring death and destruction to your kind, to associate with you means their certain demise."
Selene added, "Any gargoyle that is near you is in danger, danger from the Hunters that seek your death, and in danger from the choices that you made."
Phoebe spoke next, "The only way you can protect them is to protect them from you."
"The only way to protect them is to drive them away from you." Demona was no longer certain which sister was speaking as their words drove into her mind.
"To protect them you must make them hate you, make them want to have nothing to do with you, then they will be safe."
"To protect them you must remain alone." Luna alone was in front of her now, examining her tear tracked face with a chill dispassionate stare.
"I must remain alone," Demona repeated obediently, accepting her fate. The three Weird Sisters nodded in satisfaction.
The remainder of the battle on Avalon was blurred in her memory, mixed in with the sadness and grief the sisters had stirred within her. There were moments of clarity, her horror when she entered the castle and saw all the wounded gargoyles. The strangeness of seeing Princess Catherine looking so old, of seeing the woman who had called her a beast and looked upon her with hatred, standing so staunchly in front of the young gargoyles determined to protect them even if it cost her whatever short years remained of her life.
Elisa Maza providing a much needed distraction when Demona was almost certain she could no longer delay her body from firing upon one of the wounded gargoyles. Her victory when she persuaded herself that she didn't need a weapon to take on the human woman, and threw the laser rifle away before rushing Maza.
She was so used to not fighting with her full abilities against the Detective, that it was easy to persuade her body to do so now. Originally, she had stayed her hand in order to give the human time to betray the clan, so that they would understand what she already knew, there was no human they could trust. Recently she had grudgingly begun to consider that Maza actually might be the exception that Brooklyn claimed she was, that the detective would never betray the clan.
Finally, with Maza and the male in armor holding her down to the floor, Demona decided it was time to remind her compelled body that it had thrown away a perfectly good weapon. Even as she snarled, "I'll destroy you all," and clawed for the weapon she knew she was too far away from the rifle to reach it. The Weird Sisters compulsion must be weakening if she had this much control over her actions, she realized feeling a stirring of hope.
Of everyone that could have picked up the laser rifle, Demona was surprised to see that the Princess was the one to finally reach for it after a yellow colored gargbeast knocked it further away.
"Enough of this," said the Princess in a clear, angry voice, "Get clear!"
Demona felt the two humans scramble away from her, she managed to slow her body as she rose, waiting for the impact of the blast that would stop her from attacking. To her surprise the old woman didn't fire at her but the wall behind her, she barely had time to realize that before something heavy struck her head.
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