Chapter Twelve – Pass the Newt Eyes
Eldrian wasn’t certain if what he was looking over was an ornate dining room table or an altar prepped for a ritualistic sacrifice, or a seance. Candles holding flickering blue flames rose from macabre decorative skulls. Plates and utensils were already laid out, ready for company, and it was all upon a dark wooden table surrounded by matching chairs.
The time was almost four o’clock when he arrived. As evil as it might have all appeared, it was impressive, and he definitely thought it was cool. Deena, however, looked out of energy. She came from the kitchen and wiped her brow before removing the straps of a red apron to place it aside.
“Sorry. I just had to finish up,” she said. “The turkey is just about done. The mashed potatoes are good. I’ve got cranberry sauce and stuffing too. That should be good enough for just the four of us.”
“You’ve been cooking that stuff all day? I could have helped.”
“No. It’s fine. I just… wanted to do it myself.”
“That meal sounds incredibly normal for a family of warlocks and witches. No eyes of newt? No puppy dog tails? No bubbling green cauldron soup? If you’d like, I can go pick up some spider legs before they get here.”
He took the time to finally realize her black and silver dress. It was incredibly frilly on the bottom half, and was just as elaborate as her hair that day. All he wore was a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt sporting the logo of a band.
She shook her head. “I have enough spider legs.”
“That was a joke. Right?”
“Was it?” Her crimson gaze pierced through his very soul, though her face remained as straight as always. Eldrian shivered.
“Hey, uh, when are they coming?”
“Any minute now. And before they arrive, I just want to let you know again that they can be a bit of a handful. Please don’t do anything crazy. Barston and Alumir come from my family—a family of black magic practitioners. They might seem a little… darker than you’re used to. Just stay quiet, keep to yourself, and enjoy the food. Okay?”
“Right. That shouldn’t be too hard. I think.” He sniffed. “Wow. That food does smell good, though.”
The witch’s phone rang from her pocket. She slid it free and answered the call with little hesitation, and she didn’t even hold it to her ear. Instead, she kept it at her side, as she knew what was to come. A jet black door with an ivory knob materialized across the room and it opened. Two figures made their way through.
First, a young man with shoulder-length snow white hair entered the dining room. He had fair skin, looked to be no older than his mid twenties, and his eyes were a vibrant blue. The colour of his irises contrasted his pale skin and hair to immediately become his center of emphasis. He was a few inches taller than Eldrian, and was definitely taller than his sister.
The second man entered. He seemed to be about the same age as the first, though his white hair only reached his ears, and he stood at roughly the same height as Eldrian. His eyes were an emerald green, and below his right was a beauty mark—a single black spec.
Both wore fancy black suits. However, the shirts beneath each matched the colour of each of their eyes.
Deena introduced them, gesturing a hand to each and announcing their names in order. First, she looked to the taller of her brothers—the one with longer hair.
“This is Alumir Darsius,” she said before motioning her hand to the other. “And this is Barston Darsius. Brothers, this is Eldrian. He’s a wizard as well. The one I told you about joining us tonight. This is still fine, correct?”
Alumir shrugged. “I still see no reason to have another at our table, but we’ll do as you wish. He’s a wizard at the very least. If you started bringing regular people into this household we’d have other problems, Deedee.”
Deena frowned at the nickname.
“I can smell the food from here,” Barston added softly.
“Indeed. As you know, our holiday dinner will be tonight, as short and small as it might be. We’ll be busy after this week. Come, little sister, and let’s eat and converse of how the family’s been this year. And greetings to you, Eldrian.” He bowed.
Barston bowed as well. “Greetings, Eldrian. Interesting attire.”
He watched the two men sit at the table opposite of him. His eyes looked over the three siblings, and then to his own garb. Eldrian shrugged, and pulled up a seat to join them with a smile and an eagerly hungry pallet.
“Thanks. You too. It’s like the 4th century in here, except cooler. Though I don’t really know if the Goths actually had furniture like this. Maybe it’s just a romance of the past. Oh. That food looks great, Deena. I can’t wait to dig in.”
Both brothers showed only a silent scowl towards the boy. He was unsure if it was from something he said, or simply him being a misplacement at their get-together. But Deena soon finished bringing the food into the room.
The wafting scent of freshly cooked turkey permeated the air around them. It wasn’t long before Eldrian’s eager chops were able to begin munching down on the tender meat and gravy-covered potatoes. It was pretty delicious.
“I didn’t know you were a cook,” Eldrian said, stuffing a fork of stuffing past his lips.
Alumir scoffed. “A cook? Hardly. The food is acceptable, especially for those outside of the Darsius family. Deedee can, at the very least, satisfy my need to eat, but my taste buds dance only for the meals prepared by our house chef Mortruvius, or that exquisite place we dine at during our stays in the Demon World. What was it called again, Barston?”
“Ah. Yes. I can’t wait for our trip. We leave on Friday. Our winter home there is magnificent. I simply can’t wait to once again study what they have to offer. Demons are fascinating.”
“You guys call her Deedee?” Eldrian asked.
Unlike her brothers, Deena’s scowls never felt silent. A shiver came down Eldrian’s spine again, and his eyes slowly turned to meet the witch’s glare.
“Of course,” replied Barston with a shrug. “Deena Darsius. Deedee.”
Alumir looked to her. “Though the name was often used to poke fun, mostly by the other children. Deedee. Double D. There was something that made her upset about that. I think it’s called envy.” He let out a small burst of laughter.
Eldrian poked at his potatoes with the end of his fork. He couldn’t help but be distracted by the obvious tension between them all. Deena never put up with anybody’s guff before, yet now she seemed distant and submissive. Soon he looked to Barston.
“Is it just you two going on vacation?” he asked.
Barston shook his head. “Us and our father. Unfortunately, our mother passed away some years ago. I won’t bore you with the details, but there was always some friction between our sister and our parents, especially her mother. I’ll spare you, Deena.”
“She may also be unprepared for the trip,” Alumir added. “She’s the youngest in our family. Excluding extended family, of course.”
“Really? She and I have dealt with a couple demons already. Without her help, we might have died already. There was this tiny demon, and he turned into a huge demon, and then there’s my friend—“, Eldrian began before being swiftly interrupted.
“She’s been directly interacting with demons as of late?” Barston asked curiously. “That’s difficult to believe. If you’re telling the truth, why didn’t she tell us?”
“It was probably something weak,” Alumir said as he looked to his brother.
“Demons are often dangerous no matter what.”
“Even the weakest of the Darsius family could sweep away weak demons like dust bunnies under a broom. And she had help. That’s rather embarrassing if you ask me. This Eldrian is a wizard, yes, but he looks rather green.”
“Eldrian is pretty talented,” Deena finally spoke up.
“So is she,” Eldrian said quickly after. “Deena seems to know a lot about demons and things. Though her dark magic skills are spooky to me, she’s really good with them. She even made a voodoo doll of me… I wish she didn’t though.”
Barston swallowed down the remainder of his meal and responded with a shake of his head. “Never let a warlock steal your hair and you won’t have this problem.”
Alumir stood up from the table once his plate was cleared. With a dab of a napkin to his lips, he looked to Deena with his hands behind his back.
“Pardon me, Deedee, but would you point me in the direction of the restroom?”
She nodded, and gestured her hand. “It’s just around the corner, past my room.”
“It’s Deena,” Eldrian said the moment he turned his back.
A long moment passed. Alumir didn’t turn, but he muttered, “What was that, Eldrian?”
“Her name’s Deena. I don’t think she likes being called Deedee.”
The room became rather cold and silent after that. The preexisting tension grew only stronger, and even Barston seemed uncomfortable. Deena looked to Eldrian, and shook her head, gesturing for him to drop it. Eldrian sighed.
“Please don’t speak to our family like you know anything of it,” Barston spoke.
“Indeed,” Alumir said and finally turned around to face them. “Deedee will always be Deedee. After I wash up, we’ll be leaving, and begin packing for our trip to the Demon World. She will not be coming, as per our mother’s wishes. Words I, Barston, and our father will honour. Leave our family to us, Eldrian, or you’ll soon regret it.”
The long-haired man pivoted on his feet and departed from the room at last, leaving the three of them behind to complete the rest of their meals.
“You’d best heed my brother’s words,” Barston said to break the silence. “Don’t get involved with our affairs.”
“What kind of family bullies each other?”
“No. That Alumir guy is being a gigantic tool to Deena here, and you’re not much better. He insults her food, even though it’s tasty, and what’s with this nickname, huh? I can come up with those too. Alusmear. Poopoomir.”
“Helldrian,” came the voice of Alumir. He came slowly around the corner and stared the wizard down.
“That doesn’t work. You just made my name sound cooler,” Eldrian replied.
“What? Fine. How about… Eldrain.”
“Is this what you were doing while you were gone?”
“I didn’t hear any water running,” Deena uttered quietly.
“I’m afraid I didn’t make it to the restroom. I took a little detour, and found something interesting. Funny how little Deedee changes. She always kept things in the exact same place. First back at home, and now here,” Alumir said with a smirk.
From behind his back, he held out the magic voodoo doll of Eldrian. He twisted his pale fingers around the fabric and squeezed around the throat, not breaking the stare of his vibrant blue eyes onto Eldrian’s struggle. The wizard began to choke, gripping his hands around the phantom pain to his neck.
“Where did you find that?” Deena yelled. She stood immediately up from her seat. “Give that back!”
He ignored her, and only squeezed tighter. Eldrian gasped and fell from his chair, landing hard on his back to the floor. The boy squirmed.
“Give that back right now!” screamed Deena with a look of absolute panic on her face.
“Here’s something about me,” Alumir said as he stood in the hall. “I don’t like people who are beneath me, and I definitely don’t like people who are beneath our family. I already didn’t want you here. Deedee convinced me, but I can see now that it was a mistake. I just want to see him writhe in pain, and then I’ll decide if I wish to kill him or not.”
Deena jerked forwards, but before she could sprint towards him, Alumir gestured out a hand for her to halt.
“Stay. Do you want him to die faster? And why do you care? We’re of the Darsius family. He’s beneath you, Deedee. Beneath us, like a butterfly being stepped on by a pedestrian. You’d never even notice. Why should you?”
Never before did Eldrian see such an expression of sadness on the witch’s face. She looked to him, tears beginning beneath her eyes. She wanted to help him but wasn’t certain how.
“I’m sorry,” she said quietly. “I’m so sorry, Eldrian. I should never have made that thing. I just didn’t know if I could trust you. It can be hard to trust—“
“Aah!” cried out Eldrian as Alumir jabbed his thumb’s nail into the side of the doll.
“You call yourself a wizard?” the long-haired man scoffed. “You know nothing of magic… Hey! What expression is that, huh? Go back to choking on the ground.”
“I’ll show you how much I know of magic,” spoke Eldrian as he grinned up at him, squinting his eyes through the pain. “In fact, I know the main weakness of a voodoo doll.”
“What are you talking about?”
In a flash, Eldrian was on a knee in front of Alumir. A look of shock was present on the tall man’s face. Both of his hands wrestled the one gripping his doll, but it wouldn’t come free. Alumir was squeezing too tight.
Barston raised his eyebrows. “That was fast,” he murmured to himself.
“Hah! You’ll never get this. You’ll die trying, you idiot,” Alumir said as he began crushing the doll within his grasp.
Eldrian coughed, sending a splatter of blood over the man’s black and blue suit. This seemed to anger Alumir further. An eye twitched, and he started yanking back against Eldrian’s resistance. With a deep breath, Eldrian calmed himself. He was feeling a lot of pain, but in a moment, he knew it would be much worse before the situation was ended.
“A voodoo doll is still just a doll,” Eldrian explained. “It can be destroyed as easily as any other. It just has to be hit hard enough by a single strike.”
“Are you insane?”
The wizard let go. Before Alumir could react, he thrust forward his palm, and it made direct contact with the torso of the doll as well as the gripping fingers around it. An intense glare came from Eldrian, piercing his eyes up at his opponent. Finally, the spell came forth—a shock-wave of incredible kinetic force. The range was short, but he was in direct contact with his target. Push!
Not only did the doll explode into fragments of material and stuffing, but so did parts of Alumir’s hand. His fingers cracked and burst, sending blood flying all around him. He still had his hand, but his fingers were obviously destroyed. The man screamed out in pain and wrapped his free hand around his wounds. From his hand came a forming pool of crimson on the floor beneath his shoes.
However, it was still a voodoo doll. Though one affected by such only receives a portion of damage done to the doll, it was still a hard hit. Eldrian fell back and smashed against the side of the table. Blood came down his lips, and his breathing was pained. He began to cough. Thankfully though he was free from the spell. With one hand, he rubbed the agony he felt down his throat and chest.
“He broke my hand!” screamed Alumir. “I’d kill you right now if I wasn’t in unimaginable pain, you little piece of garbage. Open a door, Barston. We’re leaving for now. I need medical aid immediately. What are you waiting for?”
“If you’d like,” Barston said, “I can take him out for you.”
Deena stood in front of Eldrian’s body with a hand to protect him and he stared daggers at both of her brothers. It was obvious that she wasn’t planning to move.
“Or you can leave right now,” she said.
“Don’t let them get to you, Deena,” Eldrian muttered. “I get it now. You want to be accepted somewhere. Well being accepted by bad people like them is pointless and stupid. They look down on others, but you don’t. I can see that you don’t. Maybe that’s why they don’t want you around.”
“Let’s just go,” Alumir snarled. “I’m feeling light-headed.”
Barston turned without a word and opened the black door once again. The two stepped through it, and immediately after, it faded without a trace. Eldrian was injured and on the ground, but his eyes looked to the puddle of blood left behind by the taller brother. That was lucky. The voodoo doll itself wasn’t that powerful. Alumir definitely received the worst out of it.
Deena hustled over to tend to Eldrian, looking him over.
“Are you all right?” she asked frantically.
“Yeah. I might have broken a rib. I’m not sure.”
“I’m so, so sorry. I’ll never make a voodoo doll of you or… anyone! Not ever again.”
“It’s fine. The dinner was worth it.”
She shook her head and wiped away the tears. “Can you promise me something, please?”
“Of course. What?”
“Don’t tell anybody what happened here. I don’t want Kevin or Daveon or anybody to know. This was all far too embarrassing. But you can tell them about the doll. I deserve that much. Tell them Alumir took it and attacked you, and you destroyed it. Let them know I won’t make another. Just don’t tell them anything else about me.”
“I understand. Nobody wants to be caught crying. This was a lot to handle today, so how about we go on our own vacation to the hospital.”
“Right. That sounds good.” She let out a small laugh. “I’ll take you. And then I’ll clean up this mess. I like skulls and things, but blood everywhere is too much, even for me. You need to get some rest. Actually, a lot of rest. Just take it easy for a few days and I’ll bring you leftovers.”
“That sounds good to me.”
“One more thing. I can’t thank you enough for what you did, and you were right about most of it. But the history I have with my family is more complicated than you think. I’d still like it if you didn’t get involved.”
Eldrian nodded. She brought him back into Alberta and eventually to the public hospital. They managed to convince the nurses that he had been in a fight, but he couldn’t remember anything about it. Luckily his injuries weren’t deadly enough to matter. His ribs didn’t break and neither did anything else. His body did need to heal, however, so he’d need time to recover. Being gifted home-cooked turkey with cranberry sauce made it worth it, in his opinion.
Deena seemed distant and often lost in thought. There was definitely a lot going on in that head of hers. Clearly beating up her brother didn’t solve many problems with her family, and Eldrian decided to let it be for the time being. He didn’t have experience with her dilemma, but he thought about how difficult it must be to be constantly pushed away by one’s own parents and siblings.
Even with darkness still swirling in her mind, and many problems left unsolved, she somehow seemed brighter than before. There was still something that happened over dinner that removed a weight from her shoulders.
Stay tuned for Chapter Thirteen – The Odd Couple!