Dagon and Sebastian sat in the front parlor talking after just having put Alexander in the cradle for a nap. They were discussing the possibility of Sebastian opening a division of his company in Scotland and possibly buying a home nearby.
“It would be nice for Alexander and Jade to grow up together as Ali and I did,” Dagon said.
“I could probably use the help,” Sebastian said with a grin, “since I’ve yet to get the swing of my newly acquired powers, which I have you to thank for.”
Dagon laughed. “I thought it would be a nice surprise learning that once you sealed Ali’s spell you would be granted a witch’s powers.”
“It would have been nice if it had come with an instruction booklet.” Sebastian raised his hand and waved a finger around. “I still haven’t got the knack of it.”
“You look to be doing fine,” Dagon nodded and Sebastian glanced over to see Alexander’s blue baby blanket floating in the air toward the cradle.
Sebastian clamped his hand shut. “I’m not doing that.”
Both men were out of their seats in a flash and followed the floating blanket to the cradle and stared in amazement. Alexander’s tiny finger was up in the air, his eyes half-closed and as the blanket settled over him he tucked his arms beneath and closed his eyes.
“I thought you said it takes a while for witch babies to develop their abilities,” Sebastian said.
Dagon beamed with pride. “My son is developing early.”
“After that little incident when Jade and Alex were but a few weeks old and Jade sent that rattle flying—”
“And Alexander stopped it from crashing into his cradle.”
Sebastian shook his head. “I worried that Jade would far surpass my meager powers, but so far I’ve been lucky. She hasn’t displayed anymore signs of her witch abilities. However, now that I’ve seen this… I’m worried.”
“Don’t worry, all will be fine and if you start a business here Jade will have Alexander to temper her impulses to do magic whenever she feels like it just as I did with Ali.”
“Do you know of any homes nearby that are for sale. No castles, though I imagine my wife wouldn’t mind a manor house.”
“You’re right about —” Dagon never finished, the commotion coming from the foyer had both men hurrying to the closed doors.
Before they reached them Bernard flung them open and all he said was, “Hurry.”
Dagon’s heart caught in his throat as he saw Ali struggle to keep hold of Sarina. He flew to her side and scooped his wife up in his arms.
Sarina was never so glad to see her husband’s face. The pain had subsided but had left her exhausted. All she could say before her head dropped to her husband’s shoulder was, “Demon.”
She heard them all gasp and heard Dagon issue orders, the one she was most relieved to hear was that Ali and Sebastian were to get Alexander and follow them. She was also glad that he ordered Bernard to place extra protection spells around the outside of the castle. And she blessed him over and over when he heard him tell Margaret to bring tea to their bed chamber.
Sarina sighed with relief though suffered a pang of disappointment when her husband moved her out of his arms and into their bed, tucking the covers around her. She wanted to speak, to tell him what had happened, but she hadn’t yet regained sufficient breath to recount the tale.
Dagon leaned over her and kissed her forehead. “Rest, have tea, say not a word until you have regained your strength. Ali can tell us what happened.”
Ali turned from having placed Alexander in his cradle near the bed. “He’s such a champ. He didn’t even wake.” She then sat on the bed and reached for Sarina’s hand.
Sarina grabbed hold of it and smiled.
Dagon understood and forced Ali to her feet with a hug. “Thank you for saving my wife.”
Ali smiled and hugged him close.”I did what she told me. I brought her home to you.”
Dagon released Ali and went to sit at his wife’s side, taking her hand in his and giving it a squeeze. “Good, you listened to me this time.”
Sarina responded the only way she presently could. She brought their joined hands to her mouth and kissed his. She could always tell when he wanted to kiss her senseless and she saw it there now in his eyes. But she knew that he was well aware that it would rob her of much needed breath so he simply placed his other hand over their joined ones.
“Tell us what happened, Ali,” Dagon urged. “I want to hear it all.”
Ali started with their arrival and detailed everything that had happened. She even told them about the black marble eyes in the stone loins and the extent of the work done in the dining room and how Adam Lottimer suggested she leave Sarina to rest there while she went to fetch Dagon.
Dagon’s eyes narrowed at the suggestion and he interrupted Ali to let her know how much he appreciated that she didn’t do as Lottimer had suggested.
Ali shook her head. “Please, Dagon, there’s no way I would have left Sarina. We went there together and we intended to leave together. Now where was I?”
Ali continued detailing the incident and how Lottimer almost prevented them from leaving and that got Sebastian annoyed.
“I think we should pay this Lottimer guy a visit,” he said to Dagon.
“That depends,” Dagon said.
“On what?” Sebastian asked.
“On what type of demon I saw,” Sarina said her breath finally fully restored.
The three stared at her and Margaret had just entered the room with a tea tray in her hands followed by her husband Bernard and they stopped and stared as well.
“There is a demon about?” Margaret asked with a nervous quiver.
Bernard took the tray from his wife and saw to his duties though not before giving his wife a reissuing pat on the arm.
Sarina thanked Bernard with a nod for serving her first. She was dying for a soothing cup of tea. A cup of tea made everything else inconsequential, at least for a moment she wanted to believe it so.
“I have grown to like this habit of afternoon tea,” Sebastian said attempting to ease the obvious nervous tension in the room.
Sarina sighed. “It does help, though I know you all wish to hear about the demon.”
Her breath caught in her throat and Dagon’s arm quickly wrapped around her. “Take your time. Do not tax yourself.”
Sarina nodded attempting to relax her breathing and noticed that Dagon had signaled for Bernard and Margaret to remain in the room. She was glad; they were, after all, like family.
“The demon was red and not overly large, though thick in form and horns protruded from his front lobe though they weren’t very large. It simply stood there staring at our retreat. It made no effort to follow.”
“Could you sense if Lottimer knew of its presence?” Dagon asked.
“I sensed shortly after meeting him that he was trying to conceal something but I had sensed no danger so I didn’t worry.”
“He was quite the gracious host,” Ali said, “though it could have been his distinctly handsome features that had captured our attention.”
“Handsome?” Sebastian asked and glared at his wife. “You left that part out when you detailed the incident.”
Ali shrugged. “What do you want? I enjoyed his fine features, which actually seemed a bit familiar, but he isn’t half the man you are.” She leaned over to kiss her husband but stopped. “Come to think of it he was familiar with the Wainwright name.”
“He was?” Sebastian and Dagon said simultaneously.
“It would seem he knows more about us than we do about him,” Sebastian said annoyed.
“Did you sense anything that would help us to understand what’s going on at Devil’s Den?” Dagon asked.
“Now you call it by a fitting name,” Ali said.
“Now,” —Dagon emphasized— “I know a demon resides there, but does Lottimer? And does he need help?”
“Since I’m not experienced with demon sightings,” Sebastian said, “perhaps someone could offer an explanation like do demons take up residence without the owner’s knowledge? Or how do demons make it into this realm?”
Everyone looked to Sarina, she being the oldest and most knowledgeable witch there.
“There are all levels of demons,” she explained. “Naturally, some are more powerful than others. Few if any make it into this realm unless of course they find a portal that allows them easy access.”
“The Devil’s Den,” Ali said in a reverent whisper.
“Of course there is another possibility,” Sarina said and everyone waited in silence to hear it. “A demon can become indebted to a witch and then the demon serves his master until the debt is paid.”
“Are you suggesting that this demon could be indebted to Lottimer?” Ali asked with an unbelievable shake of her head.
“I’m not only saying that,” Sarina said. “I’m saying that the demon’s debt may very well have been paid and it is here now waiting for the ceremony that will send him back to the depths from which he came.”
“That means that the demon would need to get to a gateway to Hades at an opportune time,” Ali said.
“And what better time than when the dead can walk the earth,” Dagon added.
“So if I understand this right,” Sebastian said. “This Lottimer is somehow in cahoots with the devil?”
“A good chance that he is,” Dagon said.
Sebastian shook his head. “He’s obviously practicing the dark arts. Wouldn’t that make him a warlock?”
Once again they all looked to Sarina.
“I sensed no warlock, but if he is an old, knowledgeable warlock he could have prevented me from sensing his true nature,” —she paused scrunching her brow— “he did hesitate to take my hand.”
“Perhaps it is time for Sebastian and me to pay Adam Lottimer a visit,” Dagon said, though his wife and Ali’s frown let him know that they didn’t agree.
“I’m not going to warn you again,” Sarina,” Dagon said. “You are to stay put and let me handle this. It is only naturally that I go thank lord Lottimer for offering to help you and since he expressed interest in Wainwright Security it gives Sebastian the perfect excuse to join me.” He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and joined Sebastian in the middle of the foyer. He pointed a finger at her as he and Sebastian began to fade and did what he said he wouldn’t, warned her again, “Stay put.” Then the two vanished completely.
“I say we wait a few minutes before we transport ourselves over there,” Ali said grabbing her long hair and wrapping it in a pony tail.
Sarina felt a pang of guilt. Dagon had been so tender and loving with her last night making certain she rested and recovered from her ordeal. She hated to blatantly ignore his demand when she knew it was given from the heart and with a touch of fear that something would happen to her.
She shared her frustration with Ali. “But Dagon warned me and I just can’t outright ignore him. I certainly wouldn’t want him to do it to me.”
“Of course you wouldn’t, but there are ways around that.” Ali grinned like the Cheshire cat.
“I should have realized if anyone could find a way around Dagon’s order you could.”
“I used to do it all the time,” Ali confessed. “It drove him crazy, probably still does.”
Sarina smiled. “How does Sebastian ever deal with you?”
Ali laughed. “With lots of love. Now hurry and switch into leggings and a sweater like I have on. It will make it easier for us to maneuver around the Devil’s Den.”
Sarina did as Ali suggested and returned to the foyer in a flash. “What reason can I possibly give Dagon for ignoring his warnings?”
“Simple,” Ali said and began to fade. “You couldn’t let me to go on my own.” She held out her hand and Sarina hurried and took it.