Chaos and Order: The War Eternal Chapter 5

***********************

CHAPTER FIVE

A Daemon and a Sorcerer Walk into a . . .

***********************

I could feel Cordi’s sorrow turn into a cold fury as she moved around the ruined warehouse. The fire here had burned most of the building leaving the concrete and metal, charred and twisted, while devouring most of the rest of the building. As we walked through the ruin I caught a glimpse of a huge arch through one of the many holes in the wall.

“Are we in St. Louis?”

“Yes, but that’s not really important right now.”

I felt a tugging on my senses and a tingle. Cordi immediately turned in the direction I’d sensed the magic.

“Joel, what did you feel?” Cordi whispered to me mentally.

“I-I think someone, close by, just used magic. Human magic . . .” I responded making a guess.

“I can sense the daemon fire that was used to destroy this place. Then I felt what you did through our bond.” Cordi nodded as if coming to a decision, “Be ready for anything Joel, don’t speak out loud, but if you sense something let me know.”

We moved cautiously through the ruin toward the source of magic. After several minutes we stepped into a large open area and we both sensed that this was where the battle had truly been fought. The residue of daemonic power, human magic, and another power, that I figured must have been the Knight, were all strongly resonating here.

“No! Tenebris Lux!”

Cordi had spotted a body lying half buried in rubble near the center of the room. In one amazing leap we moved from the far side of the room to land, silently, only a few feet away. Then she was kneeling next to the body. I could tell that it had once been a man, but most of his body was covered in burns or was buried under the debris. Except for one patch of skin over his heart, here the exposed skin was untouched. Well, mostly untouched, there was a small circular patch of skin the size of a silver dollar missing.

“Cordi, what’s going on? What does this mean?”

“It means that my brother, Tenebris Lux’s vessel has been killed, and his mark has been taken. There’s no way that they could have gotten into this building without help. I’m afraid that the daemon’s may have made a deal with human Magic-Users and they are now working together. This explains why he didn’t answer my message.”

Cordi stood up and turned away from the remains of her brother and I got a strange feeling.

“Cordi, above us!”

She reacted instantly, glancing up we saw a strange looking rune that all of a sudden started glowing. As fast as the rune was, Cordi was faster, an early morning shadow leapt forward and suddenly we were on the other side of the room as a bolt of lightning struck the spot where we’d been standing.

“A trap within a trap?! Shall we see who it is that thinks to hunt a Knight of Order?!”

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea. They came prepared for your brother and look what happened to him.”

“They must have taken him by surprise. Instead I’ll turn this trap around on them, if there’s a chance, and if not then we’ll just watch and learn.” For a moment Cordi was silent and I could feel her anger die down to a cold determination before she continued. “Joel, I’m the Knight of Shadow, Order’s finest spy, and if necessary assassin. No one can find me if I’m prepared and don’t wish to be seen!”

With that we moved deeper into the shadows and I felt Cordi do something to twist the shadows around us.

“Did you see what I did Joel? I call it a shadow-cloak, you need to be ready, I’ve only got another hour and then I’ll have to turn control over to you. We are still not fully joined and even if we were, I’m at my best when I’m working together with my vessel.”

“I think so, at least, I think I can keep the shadow-cloak up if I need too.”

“Good, I’m going to pass control to you now. Just keep up the cloak and stay alert, I’ll be ready to take control if something happens.”

With that I felt Cordi pull back and I tried to maintain the Art she’d been effortlessly using to shield us. After a minute it slipped away. With some help from Cordi I got it up again and held it growing more confident in my ability as I settled down to watch and wait.

****

After about twenty minutes I heard a sound and when I glanced toward it I saw a pair of figures moving through the rubble. In the lead was a tall teenage boy, wearing a black leather jacket and, carrying a sawed off shot gun. Next to him walked an equally tall thin man with black hair going slightly grey at the temples he held a thick staff and I sensed it was more of a tool than a walking stick. As soon as I saw him I figured the guy with the staff must be the Magic-User. I tried to extend my sensitivity and after a minute I thought I could sense an aura of power around him.

I felt Cordi stir inside of me at the arrival of the two strangers.

“Be ready to act quickly Joel.”

“Uh, okay, do you know who they are?”

“I’ve never seen the one with the staff but the younger one looks familiar.”

I watched as the two men moved cautiously to stand over the body of Tenebris. The older man looked up and examined the rune on the above the body. After this he and the younger man started talking in low tones that I couldn’t make out from this distance.

“I wonder what their saying,” I thought.

“There is an art that would allow us to hear them but there’s no time to teach you. And for now it’s better for you to be in control of our body. With you in control the aura of my power is significantly dampened.”

By this time the two men separated. The younger man started walking around the warehouse obviously looking for a clue to the identity of the intruder. While he was doing this the older man began chanting and it was pretty obvious he was resetting the trap.

As the younger man got closer to me I got a little nervous.

“Cordi, what if he spots me?”

“Joel, you’ve got this. He won’t see us under the shadow-cloak, if I take control while he’s searching he might sense the shift. Just be calm and focus on what you’re doing.”

The youth got closer and I got my first good look at him. When I did I felt Cordi stir and a flash of anger.

“That’s the body X’lye’ous is currently possessing! By the Lords of Order I’d like to take his token right now!”

“Wait, I thought you said you didn’t know him! Couldn’t you sense him earlier?”

“Joel, with daemons unless they are actively using their power, it’s hard sense them from a distance. Unlike Knights when they possess someone they don’t change that person’s body, they are beings of Chaos so bringing mind, body, and spirit into alignment is not even relevant. Now, that he’s this close and I can see him clearly I recognize him, that’s the youth who ambushed me. It was X’lye’ous who was wearing his body.”

“Okay, then let’s take him down!”

“I’m not sure, if we fought him right now, that we’d win. In a few days I wouldn’t hesitate but right now, we might lose.”

“What about the human Magic-User?”

“He’s an unknown, and another good reason to watch and wait.”

By this time X’lye’ous was only a few feet away. He was moving very cautiously around the room looking into every corner and every shadow.

“Are you sure he can’t see us?”

“We’re safe, trust me.”

For a long second X’lye’ous paused looking into the shadow that hid us and then he moved on. I let out a breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding as I watched him move away. By the time X’lye’ous had completed his circuit around the room the Magic-User had completed recharging the spell.

Once again they held a whispered conversation and then turned and headed back the way they’d come.

“Okay, Joel I need to take control. X’lye’ous is far enough away so that he won’t feel the shift and we need to follow them.”

“Fine,” I said, relaxing and felt Cordi push forward into every inch of my skin. “What was that?”

“You’re just becoming more attuned to me and my power, you felt me taking control of our body, that’s all.”

I sensed Cordi do something and then we were standing in a shadow in front of the building across the street from the ruined warehouse watching as X’lye’ous and the Magic-User climbed into a black sedan and pulled away.

“What now?”

“We follow.”

“We don’t have a car.”

Then the shadows shifted and we were standing on a rooftop looking down on the car as it approached. “Who needs a car.” The car turned left and the shadows shifted again. Now we were standing by a tree as the sedan approached the on ramp to a highway. Again and again the world moved around us as we leapt from one shadow to the next tracking the car.

“How are you doing this?” I asked, amazed.

“I’ve got the scent X’lye’ous power now, so tracking him isn’t a problem. I’m able to see into hundreds of shadows at once so it’s just a matter of picking the shadow that will give me the best view when he passes.”

“Will you teach me how to do that?”

“Of course, but for now I need to focus.”

Cordi continued to move us from shadow to shadow until the sedan stopped in front of an office building. The man with the staff, who I assumed was a Magic-User, got out and the sedan pulled away from the curb. For a second, Cordi hesitated, and then she took us to another shadow following the sedan. At last the car pulled into a detached garage slightly behind a secluded house. From where we stood I couldn’t see any other houses.

“Joel, I can sense the power of two daemons in and around that house. I can’t tell if they’re here right now or if they just visited recently.”

The house was a multi-level large farm house with a huge front porch and a detached three car garage. Abruptly, I saw the curtain in one of the second floor windows move and for a second I glimpsed my mother’s face then the curtain closed.

“Cordi! They’ve got my mom! We’ve got to do something.”

Without thinking about it I surged forward and my body responded taking a step toward the house. Abruptly, I froze unable to move. I felt Cordi struggle to try and stop me and I knew that it was a battle I’d win, but she was strong enough to cause us to freeze for a moment.

“Joel, what are you doing? There’s at least one daemon in that house and maybe more. We can’t win a fight against two or more daemons. It won’t do your mom any good for us to rush in there. You will die and I’ll be captured.”

“So we’re just going to watch and do nothing?!”

“No, we’ll do something, but we need to be smart about this, now please give me back control.”

I let out a frustrated sigh and relaxed. As soon as I did I felt Cordi surge forward like I was a suit of clothes and she was stepping into me. My eyes blinked and she lifted my hand looking down at the foot long shadow claws I’d unknowingly summoned. With a thought Cordi dismissed the claws and stepped into the shadow. Again the world changed around me and I was suddenly standing in the living room of the safe house.

“Why are we here?”

“I needed to get us way from the daemon so we can plan out what to do next.”

“They’ve got my mom and probably my sister and father! Let’s go free them!” I said feeling angry and even though I knew it didn’t help. It was just the idea of some monster holding my family, and doing God only knows what to them, caused me to want to weep with frustration.

“Joel, I understand what you’re feeling, in fact I can feel your emotions, but we need more information, a plan, and help. Keep in mind these guys took out my brother, Tenebris Lux. He was the Knight of Order known as ‘Dark-Light’ and no easy target. I want to make the daemons pay as badly as you do, however, we’ve got to do this smart. Or we’ll just end up dead or worse.”

“What’s worse than dead?”

“I can think of several things.”

After that I settled down and suddenly found myself fighting back tears.

“Joel, I need some time to consider the situation and I’d like to contact my mentor and ask her advice. It’s almost noon, why don’t you make some soup and try to relax.”

“I don’t understand. Are you going somewhere?”

“Our spirits are merging and my power is flowing into you, which is good, but the process takes time. I can separate a part of my spirit and send it to my body in the Court of Shadows from there I’ll contact my mentor in Order’s High Court. While I’m gone you’ll still have access to my power, just please, don’t do anything stupid. Eat, rest, and try to relax, in fact you should try taking a bath. I’ll be back in a couple of hours.

“Fine. I give you my word. I’ll wait for you to return before I do anything. But Cordi, . . . … please be quick.”

“Joel, I know this is hard, I promise you I’ll do everything I can to rescue your family.” With that I felt Cordi depart.

It was the strangest sensation. I didn’t realize that I could feel her presence inside my mind until she was gone or how much comforting her presence was. It felt like I was suddenly missing a piece of myself. We’d only been together for a couple of days and already it was like she was an essential part of me. I realized that I was starving and went to see what there was to eat.

I settled on a can of chili and after eating, dumped my dishes along with those from yesterday into the sink. I wandered into the living room and looked at all of the furniture still covered in sheets and thought about spending some time uncovering things and making the house look more lived and then remembered Cordi’s suggestion, that I should try a bath. I’m not normally a bath person but my sister seemed to love them and I was suddenly curious. Why do woman enjoy baths so much?

I walked through the master bedroom into the master bath stripping off clothes as I went. By the time I got to the tub I was down to panties and bra. I got the water running and then stood up to examine myself in the mirror while I waited for the tub to fill. The woman in the mirror could easily pass for late teens or early twenties depending on the clothes and makeup. I noticed that I hadn’t lost any height, although I now had a full set of curves, creamy pale skin, and long black hair that now reached the middle of my back. I slowly removed my bra feeling a sense of relief as my breasts were freed from the garment. I noticed that my nipples were bigger and much pinker than they had been before. The second thing I noticed was that the cold air in the bathroom caused an instant reaction. My skin goose fleshed and my nipples were soon standing at attention like two tiny erections.

I glanced at the tub and saw that it was almost half full. I could get in if I wanted to so without thinking about it I hooked my fingers into the waist band of my panties and pushed them down. When I straightened up I noticed that the tiny penis I’d had this morning was gone. As best as I could tell, having never seen one, I now had woman’s vagina. I was again filled with the urge to cry. This made me angry since I hadn’t cried for years and now my emotions were out of control. To cover up my conflicting feelings I stepped into the tub and slowly sat down.

The water was hot so I had to ease myself into it. I chuckled ruefully as I lowered my butt into the water. Normally the hot water against my scrotum and penis would have caused me to cringe but the lack of external equipment allowed me to sink into the hot water easier than before. Slowly, I immersed myself in the water so that the only thing sticking out was my head and the tips of my nipples as I lay back. The water continued to run and soon it was up to my chin. At this point I sat up and turned the water off and the returned to my soaking position.

I lay back trying not to think about my family or Cordi or the events of the day, and just to enjoy the heat as it soaked into my sore body. I tried a meditation technique I’d been taught years ago. I took all of the things that made me anxious and visualized them, a mental picture of my family, my house burning, and the daemons of Chaos attacking Cordi and one by one I put them into a box. After I’d locked each worry into the box I closed it and sent it to the back of my mind. With my mind now empty of worry I focused on breathing and relaxing. As I lay there in the hot soapy water I became aware of the dark core of power inside of me. I’d felt it before only now as I focused on it I realized that it had spread throughout my body. I could focus on it and fill my body with Cordi’s dusky power and then slowly release it allowing it to return to my center. I practiced summoning and dismissing the power several times and as I did I realized that it took less time and concentration every time I did it. I finally got tired of this and after a bit just settled back to soak.

I’m not sure how long I soaked but when I noticed that my fingers looked like prunes I figured it was time to get out. I stood up and realized I’d forgotten to get a towel. This meant walking across the bathroom to the linen closet leaving a trail of water as I went. With a sigh, I got out and once dry cleaned up the water and then went in search of clothes.

I found the bra’s from this morning and to my dismay I saw that they no longer fit. I’d gone up a cup size during the day. A quick search revealed another drawer with bra’s in my new size. The panties from the panty drawer still fit so now I went looking for comfortable clothes. It didn’t take me long to figure out that each of the three guest bedrooms had closets and dressers full of women’s clothes of different sizes. Most of these were for woman shorter than me. The master bedroom closet ended up being the closet with clothes my size. I looked at several dresses wondering how items so feminine would feel and was actually tempted to try them on.

At last I found some exercise clothes, a comfortable baby blue sweat pants and matching spaghetti strap shirt, and figured these would do. Clothed, I went into the living room and glanced out the window. It was early afternoon so I still had some time before Cordi returned. I pulled off the sheets covering the furniture and plugged in the TV. Mindless channel surfing seemed like a good idea. I soon realized that day time television sucks and went to the guest bedroom where Cordi had set up her computer.

I got on line again, still annoyed with the slow connection and looked at a couple of my favorite websites before getting bored and then out of reflex I checked my e-mail. I my heart skipped a beat when I saw an e-mail from my sister.

Joel,

Help!! Some men broke into our house; they killed Dad, and are holding Mom and me. They said that I could send you an e-mail and that you’d be able to find them. You have something they want and if you come alone they’ll let me and Mom go. Joel, please, just give them whatever it is they want! They KILLED DAD! They will kill Mom and me if you don’t call them and arrange a meeting.

Christina

I sat numbly looking at the computer screen. For several seconds I just couldn’t process what it was saying. Dad was dead. Mom and Christina were in danger and they wanted something from me. It didn’t seem real. These were just words on a page and yet in my gut I knew it must be true. The news had reported finding a body that body must have been my dad. I felt my eyes grow wet and blinked furiously. Men don’t cry, my dad had often told me and I normally did my best to live up to that. I felt like I was barely in control of my emotions so I turned off the computer and walked away.

Think Joel, what could they want?! Well, duh, they wanted Cordi but how could they take her? Cut her mark from my forehead? I’d never even seen the mark. Abruptly, I turned around and went to the bathroom and looked into the mirror. The face of a beautiful brunette with a pointed chin, small delicate nose, and high cheek bones started back. The image was of a girl I’d love to ask to prom, not the image that I wanted to stare back at me from a mirror. I wanted to date her, I didn’t want to be her!

The light was dim and I thought about the shadow-claws I’d made earlier and suddenly the shadows leapt forward coalescing into a set of claws on each hand. I glanced up from my hands to look into the mirror and for the first time I saw the mark. In the middle of my forehead a black rune resembling a Celtic knot had appeared when I used Cordi’s power. I dismissed the claws and filled my body with Cordi’s power, moving closer to the mirror to examine the rune. I touched it and felt a shock like static electricity. I focused on the rune and pressed my fingers into it and felt the power inside of me respond. There was definitely a physical and a mystical link between the mark and Cordi’s power. After a moment, I dismissed the power and watched the rune fade away.

I was marked, suddenly everything seemed very real. I mean turning into a woman, and all the things I’d done with Cordi felt real, but now here all alone looking into the mirror, it all caught up to me. I was looking at a total stranger with a strange mark on her forehead and I already knew how to use the power inside of me to do some amazing things. Mostly, I realized that my life had been forever altered, I was no longer just Joel Ryan Campbell, jock, student, son and brother. I started shaking and slowly slide to the floor wrapping my arms around my legs.

This was all just too much! I should call the Guild, after all I was a normal mundane human and the Guild was supposed to protect people like me from magic and magical predators. Then I thought about Cordi and the dreams I’d shared with her. She was here to protect humans from the daemons and our bond gave me the ability to fight the daemons and save other people.

I’m not sure how long I sat there but it dawned on me that I was being childish. I stood up. Ever since I was a small boy I’d dreamed of doing things to help others. At first, I’d wanted to be a Magic-User, a Special Agent or a Hound of Heaven, to use my powers to stop the evil in the world. Only my talent wasn’t strong enough. I figured that after high school I’d go to college and study criminal justice and then try to get into the FBI.

All of that was just a vague idea not even really a dream, right here right now I was being offered a real chance to help others starting with my family. Slowly my anger turned into a grim determination, the assholes holding my mom and sister were going down and I’d be the one to do it or die trying. I looked back into the mirror. Once more I summoned the shadow-claws and looked at the rune on my forehead. Standing there with my long black hair pulled back, the claws extending from my hands and the mark blazing with dark power on my forehead I realized I looked like a total bad ass. A hot bad ass, but still a bad ass and then I realized I wasn’t alone. Cordi’s presence filled the back of my mind like a hand sliding into a nearly perfectly matched glove.

“Ah, practicing, that’s good.”

“There’s something you need to see.” I said walking toward the computer room.



If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
up
79 users have voted.

And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks. 
This story is 4523 words long.