Penance
Part Twelve
Mother of All
By: Stephanie J. Bardy

The smell of decay surrounded Reese as she lay as still as she could. It felt so familiar but the cotton that filled her head made it hard to sort memory from reality. She lay on what felt like a small cot. That helped clear her mind. The smell of decay receded into memory. The cold damp of the basement and the fogginess had pulled the memory from her. Marlon was not coming to rend her to pieces, she was not paying penance for her sins. She had been drugged. The anger at that cleared the rest of the ketamine away. She sat up and looked around. The walls were a plain cinder block, painted black, a small window sat high on the far wall, covered in a dark cloth. The cell that held her was large enough for her to take a step or two from the cot, but not much else. She swung her legs over the side and as the cold cement floor touched her skin, she realized she was barefoot.

And shackled. Large iron bands encircled both ankles. She lifted one small foot and waggled the heavy chain that disappeared under the cot. She peered underneath and saw the chain attached to a large ring embedded into the floor. Her fingers brushed the shackles and sparks flew off them.

"OUCH!" she exclaimed. Magical runes glowed where her fingers had touched. They had spelled the iron to hold her. She almost laughed out loud.

"I have waited a long time for you." A voice, soft and comforting, drifted from the dark recesses of the room.

Reese sat back on the cot, still, but her energy was scanning every part of the room. It took only a moment before she found the small figure siting in the corner directly across from her cell.

"You can release yourself. Ash was confident you couldn't, but he doesn't know what or who you are." The woman stood and walked into the dim light of the bulb hanging from the center of the room.

Reese immediately recognized the one she branded Witch. Rage boiled in her blood and a cold wind began to blow around her.

The woman smiled. "There is the fierce some creature that I knew so long ago."

Reese tried to step forward but stopped. She could hear footsteps. Two. One lighter than the other. Her power was leaching power from the magical runes, and all her senses, all her powers were charging up. The hearing of the vampire and the wolf, were hers and she used them.

Cynthiana and Ash were approaching, their voices getting louder.

"Mother should have siphoned off the power that the runes haven't, and she should be close to human now." Ash said with confidence. Cynthiana looked at him, mild guilt on her face.

"I feel bad tricking her. She was so vulnerable at the hotel. I don't think she is the same person Mother knew. I saw no evil, felt no ill intent. The flowers I placed near her didn't wither or turn black.

Ash laughed, "She is supposed to be some super all-powerful force, don't you think she could see our little spells and counter them? You can be so naïve sometimes. I'm older, I know better. Which is why Mother put me in charge of the magical stuff."

Cynthiana grimaced. "You are only older by 13 seconds. She put you in charge of carving the runes into the iron because you have brute strength not the brains to cast the spells."

Reese looked at the Witch.

"You had children."

The Witch smiled softly. "Yes, twins. The only time I ever conceived. I have taught them to be light and love. To work with the elements and the natural energy. They are good, pure. Something I never was."

Reese looked at the woman thoughtfully. "Why were you there that night. Why did you take of my flesh?"

The woman laughed sardonically. "A man. Isn't it always a man?" She sat back in her chair. "I was in love. It was wild, and crazy, and violent and all consuming. He was everything I wanted and everything I feared. When he told me we could have untold power, I believed him. I almost backed out when I entered the cave and saw you on the altar. But he convinced me it was alright. Then you cursed me. I was angry for a long time. I put a spell on him and refused to lift it. His brother begged and begged, and finally I relented, but it was too late. He was too far gone. I left. I left him in the forest, staring back at me with those grey wolf eyes of his. Three months later I realized I was pregnant. I became pregnant the night we did the ritual. They look young. Their aging is slowed. I am assuming because of the curse."

"They claim they came from Ireland, that they sprang from the Earth." Reese said.

The woman laughed. "I told them a story when they were small, of fairies and magic and good and evil. They chose to believe it and I never discouraged them. They have lived by a creed that no amount of love or teaching could have ingrained in them. They are good."

The woman stood again and walked to Reese's cell.

"I know you are going to kill me, and I am ready. I have waited for this day for a long time. I ask that you do me one courtesy first."

Reese looked at the woman, shocked. She had a lot of nerve asking for favors. "Ask."

"Please let my children live. Teach them how to fight those that did this to you, teach them the ways of the real world, and show mercy. Give them, what I never gave you."

The door to the basement opened and those very children descended the stairs.

The woman walked over to Cynthiana and Ash and kissed them both on the cheek.

"Reese has a story to tell you, listen to her. She speaks the truth. Know that I love you, and I always have. You are the only good things I have ever done in my life."

Cynthiana looked at her mother, "Mother, what are you talking about?" she looked over at Reese, "What have you done to her?"

"I have done nothing. Ask what she, her lover, his brother and their friends have done to me." She spat out.

The woman's head fell forward.

"That's right. I am not going to kill you, not just yet that would be to easy. To end your suffering now, would be a gift. One which you do not deserve. Tell them what you have done. Tell them the truth of their longevity, tell them the truth of their parentage. Tell them it all."

"Mother?" Ash's voice sounded small and scared. The woman took their hands and led them upstairs. Reese could hear everything. The shock, the disbelief and then the anger. The accusations. Reese had suspect that the Wolf had been their father, now, she was sure. The Vampire was his brother. She had names. Locations. Places to search for them, or their descendants. As she sat on the cot listening to the conversation upstairs and reveling in the waves of emotional pain emanating from the Mother, she picked up on another power. One she was very familiar with.

Marlon.

He was racing to her rescue like the white knight he was. He didn't know that she was no longer in danger. She sent a calming wave to him as swiftly as she could. He was coming so fast she wasn't sure if he would even notice it.

She looked at the shackles and waggled her foot again. She wasn't going to slip out of them that was. She closed her eyes, took a small breath and faster than a blink she was a small mouse sitting inside the circle of one of the shackles. She climbed over it, scurried out of the cell and resumed her human like form.

Using the speed she had she raced upstairs just as Marlon burst through the door. Ash lunged at him. Reese flicked her hand and Ash smashed against the wall beside Marlon. Then she spun her finger and Marlon began to struggle like he was tied up.

"What the hell are you doing?" he asked.

"I'm fine. There is much to tell you and I didn't want you killing the witness's before they had all the details."

She unbound Marlon and he came and stood in front of her. He grabbed her by the arms and did a thorough examination before he gave her a good shake.

"You ever scare me like that again, you ever leave me out of the plan like that again, and you ever just leave without a word, and I will tear you to pieces." He said. Anger, fear, relief and an emotion she wasn't ready to put into words were etched into his face.

She just nodded and he released her.

"You were just an innocent girl." Cynthiana said. Tears staining her cheeks.

Reese looked at her. "I was."

Ash began to rouse from the floor. The woman came over and helped him up. As his vision cleared he snatched his arm from her grasp.

"Don't touch me." He said. The woman dropped her hand and sat in the chair at the large wooden table.

They were in a large kitchen and Cynthiana and Ash had been at one end of a very large long table and the woman had been at the other when Marlon had busted the door.

Ash scowled at Marlon and Reese took a quick breath, he gasped and his hand flew to his throat, along with Cynthiana's. Reese raised an eyebrow. "You are connected?"

The two gasped and Reese released her breath. Once they could breath normally Cynthiana answered.

"We always have been. He hurts, I hurt and vice versa. Puberty was a bitch for both of us in more ways than one."

Reese laughed at that. "I bet!"

"How did you do that?" Ash asked. "How did you steal our breath?"

"It is my chosen way of killing and surviving. I must eat to live, much like you, but I can live off the life force of others. Mostly I take a little here or there, people think they are choking on their spit, or they swallowed air and can't breath for a second. That is all it takes, and I can go months without feeding again. I also use it as a warning. At any moment I can end you. Don't ever forget that."

Marlon let out a small chuckle. "Out of all the monsters in this room, hell in the world, she is the scariest."

Reese glared at him.

The woman stood and bowed her head. "I am ready."

Cynthiana's brow furrowed in confusion. "Ready for what?"

Reese walked to the woman, and slowly took a deep breath. The woman collapsed to the floor, her lungs deflated like a balloon left in the sun too long. She clutched her chest and her lips made a smacking sound as she tried to take a breath.

"NO!" screamed Cynthiana. "Please! I know what she did to you was horrible, but she isn't that person anymore. Please!"

Reese gave a small breath out. The woman took a rattling breath.

"I have no intention of killing her. She is useful. She has information that I want. You two have done nothing to me but follow your mother's misguided orders. I do not kill the innocent anymore."

"Anymore?" Ash asked.

"Another story, another time." Reese answered.

The woman slowly pulled herself up from the floor. She looked at Reese. "I thought you wanted me dead."

Reese turned towards the stove, located the kettle and filled it with water, placed it on the stove and turned on the element. She looked at Cynthiana. "Please tell me you have some sort of tea."

Cynthiana retrieved the tea and some cups and handed them to Reese. Then she went and sat beside her brother at the table.

Reese looked at the woman. "You are going to help us. I want to track down all of you. Each one who took of my flesh. There is a man, he is Vampire, he is here, and he has powers that I have never seen. They almost match mine, but they have been twisted somehow. He is not stronger than I, but he is close. I want to find the one who made him. I want to find you all."

The woman nodded. "I can help you. I know the man you speak of. Adrian DeMorte. He is an evil man. I have done my best to avoid him. What do you need me to do first?"

Reese removed the whistling kettle and poured two cups of tea. She handed one to the woman.

"What is your name?" she asked.

"Tiana."

"Well, Tiana, I need you to find a way to kill him."

The woman paled. "No. I will not. I can not."

Reese flicked her hand and a large gash appeared on Ash's chest. His shirt immediately began to soak with blood and he tried to hold his skin together with his hands. Blood poured over his hands.

"He will bleed out in about 3 minutes." Reese said.

Tiana screamed. "Please! You said you didn't kill innocents any more!"

Reese smiled. "He isn't as innocent as he would have you believe."

Cynthiana looked at her mother in shock. "Mother please, help her, don't let Ash die." She screamed in pain as Ash writhed on the floor.

Tiana looked at her children and back at Reese, desperation emanating from her in waves.

"Two minutes." Reese said flatly.

She flicked her hand and a similar gash appeared on Cynthiana. She fell back and Ash contorted in pain. Their blood mixed on the floor between them.

"One minute."

"Fine, fine I'll do it." Tiana cried.

Reese took a deep breath and blew over the two wounds. They reknit as fast as they appeared. Cynthiana and Ash fainted from the shock to their bodies.

"You are a monster." Said Tiana.

"Told you." Said Marlon.

Reese walked up to Tiana and put her face as close to hers as possible. "I am what you made me."

To Be Continued…

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