""Now, it seems to me we need to get the real citrine back to the museum first. M?" Kismet shimmered in and out, holding gthe yellow gem toward his apprentice. "I think you can handle the return without arousing any suspicion." M took the stone and secreted it into one of the hidden recesses of his sports coat.
"OK now for you young lady. We need to get you into Morgana's house. And I'm afraid you'll have to go in with minimal cover."
"I should be the one to go in there, Kismet," protested Mr M.
"You're not ready yet, Boychik!"
"And she is?" M pointed at me accusingly.
"No, of course not," said Kismet affably, "but she's already involved!"
"Hello, I'm standing right here," I said. "Do you think I might be included in the discussion?"
Both the man and the spectre stopped and looked at me. They opened their mouths to apologize, but I stopped them by holding up my hand. "Look Morgana is expecting me, and I am worried the longer we take, the more suspicious she will become."
Kismet shook his head. "What can I say? When you're right, you're right, White Owl." He turned to Mr M. "Before you go I need your help with something. You wait right here, Dr Nikos; we'll be right back. You might want to change back into your civilian clothes." They departed into another room and I stood up.
I was just rezippping my skirt when the two re-emerged and Kismet had me sit down.
"We'll get you into Morgana's," he said. "And I'll make sure she doesn't pick up that you are no longer hers."
"What about the stone?" I asked.
"I took the liberty of enchanting another stone. Magically, it will resonate with a very similar Aura to the Citrine Morgana desires. But its only a glamour--there is no other magic attached to it, though. And when I enter your mind, I can mimic answers to show you're still controlled."
"enter..my mind..OOOP!" Kismet disappeared, and I heard his voice in my head.
"Don't struggle now. I'm just rearranging some stuff to make room for me....Hmmm, you've met Athena too? Interesting. There. All snug."
We walked out of the brownstone and I felt Kismet reeling off instructions..."Six blocks north dear."
I walked several blocks quickly and unerringly, then stood in front of Mrs Morgan's house, looking in.
"She's in there," I heard Kismet say. "I'd know that dark power just about anywhere. OK I'll be here, protecting you, but I'm going silent. You're covered, but on your own kiddo!"
I forced myself up the steps to the door and knocked. The door swung open and I crossed the threshold. I felt my blood running chill.
"You're late!" I heard a shrill voice say. "But you've arrived at last. Do you have it? Let me see!" Morgana held out an eager hand. I responded mechanically, drawing out the faked citrine and handed it to the witch woman. She seized it and waved her arm. "Go, you're dismissed and freed. You will remember none of this."
As suddenly as I'd come inside the brownstone, I found myself outside. My mind cleared and Kiset looked into my eyes again. "We're about 5 blocks away Athena," he said. " And my time is about up for now. Even ghosts need to recharge their batteries. Now go and do what only White Owl can do." He waved his hand and my clothes changed magically into the White Owl costume.
"I need to learn how to do that," I said, smiling.
"Eh, its easy after about 40 years," said Kismet. "Now I really gotta fade. Good luck Ow..."
I took a minute to take stock, then flew back to Morgana's house, breaking through the huge double doors at the front of the house like they were made of balsa. "All right lady," I said. "I know YOU'RE behind the theft of the Citrine--and not Dr. Chatterjee. This wil go easier for you if you give up now."
"Ah White Owl," said Morgana with a smile. "I thought I'd eliminated all the occult avengers in this city. And you're hardly in a position to stop me." She clenched a fist.
"So you're willing to fight it out?" I asked, dropping into a crouch and plaming a bop ball.
"Oh my no--I detest phyiscal displays; they're so vulgar." She raised her fist and a large crystal ashtray flew at me. I narrowly avoided contact, only to stare in horror as her comfortable fireside living room seemed to come to life. The table and wingback chair tried to pin me into a corner and I managed to leap over. But my foot got tangled in the throw rug, which porceeded to wind itself around my legs, binding them. The fireside tools--the poker and shovel then sprung out and batted at my head. The poker finally connected and I saw stars Then things went black.
I felt cold, rough stone in my back and as i struggled to sit up, I felt cold fingers clamped tightly over my arms and legs. I was placed at the cardinal points of a pentagram, and I could see the candles lit at my feet and hands. "What's going on here?" I demanded.
"Oh be quiet," said Morgana, from a shadowy recess. "You're in my conjuring room, which also happens to be my cellar. And you're here because I need blood to work the magic of this stone. I suppose looking back, I could have used Dr Nikos, but the blood had to be untainted, and well, she was touched in the head by me."
"But why?" I asked.
Moragan whirled, a long cloak whipping behind her. She grabbed my chin and forced me to look into her dark, angry eyes. "Because my life is miserable. I gave up love for immortality and power and I've realized its an unfair trade, White Owl. I can compel men and women to offer themselves; down to the point where they're even saying all the right things. But its worthless. I know inside there's not any passion there; no real feelings for who I am. It's all a sham.
"So I've decided to break that curse. For the last seventy years I've been trying but every time I've been outfoxed and defeated. Ghostbreakers, Occultists, adventurers and recently you so called super heroes. Some were ancient, some more modern but they all worked toward thwarting my goals. The worst was Professor Kismet." She spat his name like a curse.
"But he's dead at last, and his 'apprentice' is completely untrained--feeling his way into magic. And the REST of you so-called defenders of Queen City are woefully inadequate to deal with a trheat of a mystic nature." The contempt in her voice was strong, dripping with acid.
"It was a simple matter to control the minds of those fools, Chatterjee and Nikos; and through them, to gain control fo this Citrine." She held up the yellow gem and I gould see it glowing with a soft light in the candlelit room. "By releasing the power in the stone, I shall break the curse and regain the ability to love and be loved!"
"At what cost?" I challenged. "Will you lose your life? Your power? Your immortal soul? I've done the research!"
"I lost my soul centuries ago, White Owl! Now I will be rid of this curse. And rid of YOU as well! I sahll be beautiful and terrible and powerful and immortal and beloved!" She whirled then stooped and placed the citrine on my chest. She stepped out of the pentagram and began carving the air with a curved dagger, keening and chanting in the dim light.
The candles blazed, guttering in the cool April breeze. "Shouldn't there be a full moon?" I asked.
"Silence, or I will muzzle you!" said Morgana. The ritual doesn't require it, but if you aren't careful you may find both of us skyclad if you don't hold your peace." I closed my mouth, determined to break free rather than avial myself to that sight.
As Morgana chanted, merging her essence with that of the doctored Citrine, I could see the stone glow and gain brilliance as she keened. She reached the apex of her spell; raising her hands high, then driving the dagger down and slicing my stomach open. She caught the blood on her dagger and into a small goblet as well. She lifted the citrine off my chest, ignoring the pain on my face and the tears rolling down my cheeks. She raised the citrine in her left hand and the goblet of my blood in her right, then looking up she dropped the gemstone into the goblet.
"And now, I will lose this curse and be free! The goblet glowed in her hand then a bright phosphorus light glowed, a dazzling, blinding glow and Morgana screamed as she lost her sight in the brilliance. The sensor lenses in my mask dimmed, allowing me to see the grasping, skeletal hands loosen their grip as Morgana's concentration was shattered. I rolled off the pentagram and grasped a special ball from my belt. Morgana was staggering to stand, furiously blinking to clear her eyes. I released the flash bang, adding the sound and dazzle to increase her disorientation. I scrambled to my feet, pulling the net ball from my beltand throwing it at Morgana. It struck and the witch went down, knocking over the candles. The net caught fire, and I stumbled to get to Morgana intending to pull her free. But as I pulled her up, I noticed the dress was empty--the woman had disappeared.
I heard a Boom, as a bottle of phosphorus exploded. I found the exit to the room and headed up the stairs to the exit. On the way out, I passed a desk with several carefully detailed journals sitting there. I grabbed the books and dove out the window about the same time as Queen City's bravest rolled up. I gave a brief reprot to the fire captain, and Captain Winslow, then flew home.
I petted Daisy as I lay on the couch, leafing through the journals. What I saw prompted me to call off the next day at the museum, then as White Owl I went to Police headquarters. Winslow was out, but Payton Reed saw me and smiled; turning a brilliant red as he did. We went into a witness interview room and I provided hime with the information regarding Morgana and her mental influences on both Ajay Chatterjee and Athena Nikos.
Based on the strength of those documents, an open warrant was issued for Morgana. Ajay was freed from jail and the charges dropped. I will admit that with some urging from both myself and leverage from the Nikos Trust he was also restored to his position at the museum center.
Mr M is an OC of
and used with permission
Payton Reed is an OC of
and used with permission
All other characters are my OC's and I negotiated a fair price with myself for their usage.
and this takes place in Queen City, a tale of