Originally posted September 19, 2009 at 4:36pm
Something had happened to Gwen Van Helsing. She recognized Daloki, but did not know Devek when he spoke to her, and when Elexin’s name was mentioned, she asked who that was. Her behavior was that of a sweet and proper middle-aged woman of a bygone century. And she called Katie “Alice.” Perhaps it was Gwen who had gone through the looking glass.
In the tavern, the Darkness was evident, and no longer just in Raelin – Abbey had been turned as well. Daloki invited Gwen out on the lawn to get her away from them, but the next thing they knew, they were under attack. Both Abbey and Raelin transformed into winged creatures and came at them from the air. Daloki shielded them against Raelin’s fire, heat and lava, but could not prevent Abbey from grabbing Gwen in her claws and flying away with her. Gwen seemed oblivious, still thinking she was walking back toward the tavern.
Raelin set the tavern on fire, then flew up to meet Abbey. In the next few minutes, while her friends watched helplessly, Raelin shredded Gwen’s body mercilessly while Abbey dealt severe injuries to Katie, who had flown after them in one of her airborne forms. Finally, the two Dark beasts took Gwen between them and pulled her apart. As Gwen’s blood rained from the sky, Abbey zoomed back down into the tavern, hunting for her new “toy” that she’d hidden there.
The “toy” was Gwen’s blessed sword, Akuna. As Abbey picked it up, Daloki hoped it would reject the Darkness – and it did, flying from Abbey’s hands to Dal’s own.
A moment later, a beam of white light appeared from the sword, and the light coalesced into the form of an old man. He took the sword from Dal, changing it into a staff short enough to be used as a cane, and flung power at Raelin and Abbey, who crashed to the ground, the Darkness temporarily driven out.
The old man, the spirit of Akuna, insisted that Abbey and Raelin’s injuries be tended. “All life is sacred,” he said. As they walked toward the place where the two had fallen, Daloki mentioned what Gwen had said – that she always comes back to life, but not strongly, not well, when the Akuna is not with her. The old man smiled a deep smile and said, “She knows her way home.”
He also told Daloki something disturbing. The tavern, he said, has its own energy, and every time it is restored from destruction, it gives energy to those in its surroundings. Thus, if the cursed pistol is there when this happens just a few more times, the psychopathic spirit Lucy could escape from the gun.
With gold thread taken from Akuna’s robe, Abbey and Raelin were bound, then their injuries tended. The comic relief waiters rebuilt the tavern once again, and Devek, Zazel and Synful healed Katie.
Akuna folded a piece of parchment in an origami-like way and it became a prison cell placed in one of the tavern’s corners. In this cell, Abbey and Rae were placed.
Now Akuna and Daloki had another conversation. What he told her shook her to her core: That she is the only one who cannot be made a vessel of the Darkness. Ironically, it is the darkness of the pain she constantly endures that protects her.
The last thing Daloki heard that night before she left the tavern was Gwen’s voice in her head saying, “I will be back, my friend.”