Season of the Witch

Summary:
October 31, 2014: Halloween is a day rife with mystical seasonal energies. Many try to tap those energies on this day. One has decided to use that fact to eliminate the competition. And only John Constantine can stop a murderous demon's rampage, and save a naive young witch.

Witch's House

A house in New York, owned by a witch. She loves Halloween and is definitely not dangerous, especially where children are concerned. But she is not quite subtle about her magic-working either…


Characters

NPCs

  • Samantha King
  • Black Winds

Mood Music:
[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1PH_Y8Xn4g]


October, also known as the 'Season of the Witch'. Halloween, the culmination of the peculiar energies accumulated over the course of the month. There is much that can be done with such power, and many who seek to use it for their own ends. It is rather predictable really. So predictable that someone has summoned a demon on this night — one who definitely does NOT rely upon the seasonal energies of Halloween — in order to track down and eliminate every other magic user who attempts to tap that power.

Reducing the competition, as it were.

In Salem, Massachusetts, there have already been fifteen murders of various magic users — most of them amateurs who barely knew what they were doing. At the site of a former concentration camp in Germany, a necromancer has been torn apart and fed into his own magic, reducing him to a zombified head + assorted parts. In New Orleans, a Bokor trying to wield his voodoo to magically kill someone on the other side of the world for a client finds his body erupting with serpents who punch new holes in his flesh and slither out of him until his remains look like swiss cheese.

All over the world, this powerful demon travels, the very forces these magic users try to wield acting as the beacon and the method by which the monster gets around. Most of its victims have been unsuspecting, unprepared, too arrogant or amateurish to consider interference. But it is only a matter of time before it runs into someone with more power and caution.

And yet… Even that might not be enough. Because when someone is conducting a ritual to tap into eldritch powers, they are not generally able to stop on a whim to deal with an attacker. That's what guardians are for. And an infernal being that can bypass those guardians and travel directly to the one doing the magic is thus a serious threat.

A perky wannabe witch in New York City is currently trying to make a self-replenishing candy bowl because she gets a lot of trick-or-treaters, and this will save money. Her magic and magical preparations are noticeable in her well-taken-care-of house, though most 'normal' people only see it as special effects or rationalize it away. She has about fifteen minutes to live unless someone intervenes — whether to stop the demon or to stop the ritual that already has green smoke billowing out the windows, and strange shafts of light streaking out of the chimney.

A door slams open. This would be weird enough, but the door is normally access to a small storage closet. More strangely still, a man bursts out of the doorway, a cigarette trapped between his lips and his trenchcoat flapping with his motions. There's a view of a room, richly appointing in plush scarlet and wood that looks as if it were taken out of a Victorian-era sitting room.

"Sorry, love," Constantine grunts. He brings a foot up and kicks the witch right in the chin where she kneels, knocking her cold out. Hands slip under her arms and he drags her into the open doorway, which he kicks shut with a violent motion.

"All right, you bastard. Time we put a twist on this." He moves to her little altar and kneels right in the middle of her ritual circle, his trenchcoat splaying out on the ground. He takes a few quick breaths, eyes closing to center himself in her energy. The Brit's eyes snap open and he starts moving with quick, precise motions. A scrap of paper with mystic runes is fed into a candle before being dropped in her chalice. Her runes are scribbled over and changed by a magic marker. He shifts some candles and with a magician's flourish, produces a small, worn book from under his jacket.

In an eldritch tongue, he starts chanting, glancing frequently at the still-burning paper in the chalice. He speaks quickly without stumbling over the words, watching the ebb and pulse of the powers that are being unleashed. The trenchcoated wizard starts to assemble a counterspell. Rather than trying to block the demon's arrival, he puts a little topspin on the magic and sends it back the other way- to the demon's original summoner.

At least, that's the plan. Constantine's luck can be a fluid thing.

The witch in question is young, maybe 19. 21 at the oldest. She has long red hair, green eyes, and is dressed in a 'sexy witch costume' outfit. Because that's what people are expecting anyway on a night like this, so she should blend right in, yeah? Not that she's super subtle at other times, with magic like this, but she at least makes the attempt to look like a person instead of a stereotype. "Huh, what—!?" she starts as her closet door busts open and some dude comes out. For a moment she worries maybe someone watched Scream too many times, or maybe this is some pervert, and she tries to remember how to turn someone into a toad. She is too slow, however, and is kicked in the face, knocking her out painfully.

Well, it kind of IS an emergency. She is shoved into the closet and has the door slammed on her.

As the candy bowl that is the center of the the ritual is turned into a holder for burning paper, the magic begins to be tweaked and altered. And after several tense minutes of work, Constantine may feel he is at least making progress, if not having already accomplished his end. As the seasonal energies begin to flow differently, or to stop flowing entirely, there is a knock at the front door. The magic is dying down already, in terms of spectacular special effects. Is that the demon outside? Would it really knock? The sound of childrens' voices chattering on the front porch indicates otherwise.

The voices of the children turn to screams of fear around the same time that the shadows within the house seem to come alive, the very walls flexing in and out like they are breathing, and the windows fogging over more and more from a contrast of hot and cold air creating condensation. If Constantine can feel the presence of demons, evil magic, and the like, he should be able to determine that there is a demon here. And if he can gauge power, he should be able to determine that this demon is not some imp or simple fiend. Whatever this is, it is perhaps just short of one of the top-tier residents of the infernal reaches. Not the strongest, but not something to snort at.

The only reason it hasn't struck already is the work that John has done on the ritual. There is suddenly a little girl standing off to Constantine's left. A little girl in a blue night gown, with so-sharp teeth, and eyes glowing red-on-black. Her pale hand raises to scratch at her cheek, her other hand clutching a decapitated doll, dripping blood. "We ssseee you are not the one we ssseek," a voice wholly inappropriate for the girl's appearance or any form outside of a nightmare hisses. As the little girl peels away a part of her cheek, the voice speaks from elsewhere in the room. An aged body wrapped in chains, hanging upside-down, with needles clustered in its reddened eyeballs, inches away from Constantine — but outside of the circle still. "Tell ussss where she liesss and we will leave you alive," the tortured body promises. In moments, that form is gone too, and a pillar of corpses woven together, hands sewn onto elbows, and legs protruding out through horribly stretched jaws, and eyes and teeth surgically implanted in torsos. "It mussst tell usss quickly, or we ssshall have to do to it what we will do to her."

And then the demon's next form appears. The floor is covered with the face of the witch that Constantine is trying to save. Each face appears to have been removed intact, eyes and all, but the edges are clearly tattered flesh, overlapping other faces all around, with only gaps of utter darkness between. And the shocked, scared eyes of the young woman do not match when her soft, red lips move to speak the malicious words. "It will be taken back home with usss, to the Dark Place, and it will be ssskinned alive, over and over and over for all time."

Despite the horrific display, no hostile movement has been made yet. Is it the circle, or does the demon truly need Constantine to tell it where its target is? What if he changed the ritual in time for the connection between little miss witch and the seasonal energy to be only a trace? If he keeps working on changing the ritual, can he send this thing back? It seems awfully eager to get this over with quickly. Does it have a time limit?

Whatever the case, fighting something like this, here, now, is probably bad. But so is giving into it in any way whatsoever. Even acknowledging it, speaking to it, could trigger some kind loophole it can use to get inside of Constantine, hollow him out, and leave his husk as it uses all he knows to find its intended target.

This is such a bad demon. So very, very bad.

And yet for now, he remains whole, intact, and able to keep working.

"Piss off, you sodding little wanker."

Not exactly politick, but then again, this is the guy who once told the greatest of lies to all three of the Masters of Hell. If Constantine is remotely scared, it doesn't show. He even works the words in between the recitation of chants from the book, his focus not wavering for a moment.

The wizard broadens his focus, becoming immersed in the entirety of the ritual. The ring of protection. The shimmering chalice. The /reality/ of the magic, not the glamours and the fearmongering of the servant of the Pit taunting and teasing him. He digs deep, remaining still, eyes lidding as he stays focused on the book he holds in both hands. A page is turned carefully, every motion becoming more still, more deliberate as he avoids any physiological reaction to the demon's presence.

The hissing voice/voices increase in volume and sinister speech, as a black wind begins to swirl around the room, putting out candles, knocking them over, leaving claw marks on the walls and furniture, teeth of darkness biting the air and making it bleed. As gas vapors spill crimson upon the floor, the buzz of ten-million wasps seems to go off like a bomb all around John, coating the walls, floor, and ceiling in yellow-and-black insects. Fire sweeps through the room, intense, searing temperatures assaulting the man working the ritual, but not quite tipping over the edge into physical harm.

The floorboards the ritual circle is painted on begin to jolt and bulge upwards, jig-sawing apart like puzzle pieces, and the fingers of little children, and glowing red eyes, and the costumes they're wearing — were they the trick-or-treaters on the porch a short time ago, or was it merely their image borrowed and twisted, as they try to force their way up out of the floor, gradually disrupting the protective circle by changing the layout of the floor it's outlined on?

But though that threat remains, it never quite solidifies… Even as demonic eyes in cute little face seem to stare unblinkingly from the dark gaps between where there are markings and where there are not.

Eventually, Constantine finishes his work, and the demon feels its channel changed, its course altered. It flows back up to the connection between magic and summoner, and leaves behind one last threat.

"We shall remember it. We shall ssseek it out. We shall know itsss face if ever we crosss pathsss again."

"Our businessss with It, isss not yet complete."

And then all the lights go out in the house, punctuated by the sound of a thousand tortured infants crying. And when some measure of illumination returns, and that dreadful sound is absent from any ears, the ritual is over, and the demon returned to its master. This house is safe. And at least by THOSE demonic hands, no more shall die this night.

A groan comes from the closet as a certain witch wakes up a little bit.

Constantine opens the door to the closet. It opens once more on that lavishly appointed parlor that has no business being in a two-bedroom aparment- one of the infinite number of rooms that comprises Constantine's magical living quarters. He looks grimly down at the woman, finding a cigarette in a pocket and lighting it with a flick of his Bic, puffing a few times on the nicotine stick.

"You got lucky tonight, luv," Constantine informs the woman, gesturing back at the infernal stink of the apartment behind him. "You ought to think about buffing up your wards a bit. A little summoning circle won't keep a pretty head like yours attached to your torso when a demon like that comes knocking. You can at least slow it down long enough to run like crazy."

Constantine walks around her, so she has a clear path of travel back to her apartment, and gestures impatiently with his cigarette-bearing hand. "Well, move along then. You're crying up my good rug and it's a royal pain to get cleaners into here."

The witch is totally confused, her jaw is hurting, and she is not really a combat-witch, so much as the wholesome kind that do awesome stuff like making a million dollars appear with a twitch of her nose. Not that she can do that, but it's the thought that counts. So she is all too willing to scramble back into her house, and let out a wail of anguish at the state of the house, before slamming the door behind her. She'll have to fix this all up really fast, so she can attend to trick-or-treaters. Yes, that is her main concern. Not the property damage itself, not the potential danger (though she definitely took frazzled note of the wards suggestion), not even the fact her candy bowl ritual is ruined. Just that her house is no presentable for visitors.

Priorities.

Also, she probably blames Constantine for this destruction and is going to come looking for him in the future.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, a terrible demon has been banished back from when it came, much of its shapeless form burned to ash after it attempted to attack its summoner. A VERY clearly female figure, seemingly coated from head to toe in gold or bronze, with an impassive mask of the same, horns protruding from the sides, stares at the place where her summoned demon once existed. It was not a complete loss, but she had hoped to eliminate more fools. Perhaps some of the 'big name' wizards and sorceresses. Maybe even Jason Blood, but she had doubted she would be that lucky.

But her demon was stopped much too early. She will find out who is responsible, and deal with them.

"None shall thwart the plans of Morgaine le Fey," a cold voice speaks from within the armored body. The lips and features do not change one bit, though the blank white eyes seem to glow a little. "Not without suffering the consequences."


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