Story by Zahir al Daoud
Written by Drew and Dan Joslyn (with additional writing by Susan Carr)
Directed and Produced by CN Winters
Sounds by CSR
Edited by Susan Carr and CN Winters
Art Direction by Robert Kidman
Artists Ė Robert Kidman, Zahir al Daoud, Humaira, Chris Cook, Sarah and Elif
Pier 29 Restaurant Ė Night
Dawn looked dubiously down at the skinned, pink salmon on her plate. "Did this come out of Lake Erie?"
"Somehow I doubt it," Skye told her. "It cost thirty dollars, though, so it better be good."
The two girls were seated with Gregor Kalderash at a well-set table in the center of a bustling lakefront restaurant. To call the place Ďfancyí would certainly not be out of the question. Large windows on three sides of the restaurant revealed the silvery, frozen surface of Lake Erie, patched with white beneath a dark, clouded sky.
Gregor eagerly grasped his knife and fork in preparation for digging into his lobster. "I told you, money isnít an object. Enjoy yourselves." He finagled a piece of meat from the shell and popped it into his mouth.
Dawn and Skye cast each other an awkward glance. It was Dawn who sighed and turned back to the older man.
"I guess thatís whatís worrying us," she said. "I mean, word gets around at the CouncilÖwe know that, well, youÖ" she trailed off, looking as if she hoped Gregor would get her meaning without her having to actually spit it out.
"Go on," Gregor prompted, gesturing in the air with his fork. "The entire purpose of this exercise is to get to know one another better. While also indulging in some remarkably fine seafood, of course."
Dawn still seemed reluctant.
"We know youíre dying," Skye told him bluntly, "or at least that you think youíre dying."
Gregor raised a single eyebrow. "You think Iím wrong?" The corner of his mouth curled into the slightest hint of a smile.
Skye opened her mouth as if to apologize, but her girlfriend cut her off.
"Iím sorry, Mr. Kalderash, Skye can be a little rude sometimes." She leaned over to whisper in Skyeís ear. "I swear, sometimes itís like you donít have a conscience."
Skye almost smiled, but caught herself. She glanced over at Gregor, who didnít seem to have noticed anything.
"Itís quite all right, Miss Summers," he said. "I understand completely. You have nothing to go on but my word. And I appear to be as fit as a fiddle. However, I assure you that I am not long for this world." The sorcerer bit into another chunk of lobster.
The two girls looked at each other again, not sure what to say. "Iím sorry to hear that," Dawn finally managed.
"Happily, I am not," Gregor continued. "Not sorry, to be more precise."
"So youíd rather be dead?" Skye asked. "Thatís bleak." She took a sip of her drink, looking rather unconcerned.
"I doubt even the suicidal among us truly wish for death, but I am ready to move on," Gregor told her. "I have lived a long, varied life, and done much good along the way. I am satisfied."
Skye now paid more attention to the man across the table, putting down her glass. "I donít think Iíll ever be satisfied with dying," she said. "Seems to me like something to be avoided at all costs."
"We are all mortal," Gregor replied. "It is perhaps the only certainty in life."
"Death, taxes, and apocalypse," Dawn confirmed. "Mmmm, is this good or what?" she gushed, savoring another bite of pink fish.
Gregor smiled a little. "Being young, you may not be able to understand the idea of welcoming the end. But, one day, if you are lucky enough to live many, many years, you will. All stories must have a final chapter."
Despite the salmon, Dawn seemed uncomfortable. She stood up, slinging her purse over her shoulder. "Iím going to go freshen up for a moment," she announced. Turning to her girlfriend, she added "You coming?"
Skye hesitated. "No thanks, Iím good."
Dawn leaned closer to the other girl, lowering her voice. "You sure? We could talk while I checked out my makeup in the mirror."
"I think someone should stay here with Gregor," Skye insisted.
Dawn looked a little hurt, but didnít say anything. "Okay, fine." She walked off into the restaurant. Skye turned back to the older man, managing an awkward smile.
"You havenít touched your dinner," he pointed out. "Are you feeling all right, Miss Talisker?"
Sure enough, Skyeís crab legs were still intact. "I guess Iím not that into seafood," she explained.
Empty Warehouse Ė Later That Night
A wooden staff trailed across a bare concrete floor. Wherever it moved, it left a red marking, as if it were a paintbrush. Wearing a hooded brown cloak that concealed its face, a mage traced a long arc with his staff, and then crossed it with a slashing motion. Seemingly finished, the mage stood back to take in his handiwork.
The floor of the large, empty warehouse was now covered with an elaborate, curved, red design, culminating in a perfect circle at the center. Another mage, similarly dressed, put the finishing touches on another part of the design.
"Nice," the first wizard observed, in the sort of voice one would expect from a mechanic or a dock worker, not a demonic magic practitioner.
"Yeah," his colleague agreed, "sheís a beauty. Though Iím still not sure why weíre doiní this."
"ĎCause our buddy asked us to, nitwit," the first answered. "I already told ya that."
"What Iím not exactly clear on is why he asked us to, if yíknow what I mean," the second mage said. "I mean, this is dark stuff. Ainít really his style."
"Doesnít matter," the first wizard answered, "the Clan owes him too much to blow him off."
"When youíre right, youíre right," the other agreed. "Just curious, is all."
"Then Iím afraid your thirst for knowledge will have to remain unquenched." A third voice interrupted the conversation.
Gregor inside the doorway of the warehouse, examining the symbol on the floor. "Very good," he commented. "This will hold whoever I place in it?"
"This baby would trap a werewolf," the first mage told him.
"Or a slayer," added the other. "Been seeiní a lotta those lately."
"Youíre certain?" Gregor asked.
"Oh, yeah," said the first wizard. "Even if you or I were in there, all the magic in the world couldnít help us break out."
"Excellent," Gregor responded. "Itís time, then."
End of Teaser