The Cost of Magic
Disgraced Guardian of the Veil
Charm stood behind Ash and held him close. Charm’s heart beat hard against his chest, threatening to crack through the bone and straight through Ash’s skin. It would fall in next to his heart and they’d crash together, beating each other into a bloody pulp until nothing was left at all and Charm prayed and prayed for that to happen. But God didn’t listen to things like him. Hubristic abominations of demonic glory and human folly. He shouldn’t even exist
He laid his head on Ash’s shoulder and let the ends of his hair tickle his nose.
“I’m so sorry,” Charm whispered, but it wasn’t enough. It could never be enough. It wasn’t going to save him.
The infection spread inside Ash. Charm could feel it stirring in Ash’s body and centering on his stomach. It wasn’t a consciousness, more like a pull, like gravity, urging him to get closer, to open Ash up and crawl inside. Things whispered his name, telling him that everything was coming together and soon. Soon. He forced himself not to listen. Not to them. Not while Ash was in danger.
Ash took a long, shaky breath and gripped Charm’s arm tightly, forcing their bodies closer. “I thought we would have more time.” He gritted his teeth through a wave of pain. “Is it… human?”
Charm reached out with his mind and tried to touch the thing that should have been a baby. It felt like home. “No.”
“Is it like you?”
The words stung Charm, but he could also feel the hurt in Ash. For the first time, Ash was being forced to see that Charm wasn’t what he looked like. That what he saw when he looked at Charm was a lie. He was a telepath, and a good one. He twisted people’s thoughts around him because his true form wasn’t human at all. Ash tried not to think it, but he wondered if Charm had done even more. Had made Ash believe he wanted it when—
“I didn’t do that,” Charm said, interrupting Ash’s line of thought. ‘To you,’ he almost added, but didn’t.
When he spoke again, his voice came out different than he’d expected it to. It was harsher and somehow shakier than he’d ever heard himself sound and it left him wondering if something was wrong with his hearing.
“It’s not like me. It feels like a doorway, not like a, uh—” A what? What did he expect to say? ‘Not like a baby’? Was that it? He actually had to keep himself from laughing at that. “Not like anything that should come from you.” Unspoken, ‘but definitely something that should come from me.’
Ash breathed deeply, his lungs hitching with every cry he suppressed. After a thousand years of silence, he finally said, “What are we going to do?”
“D said I have to kill… it… you.” Charm’s hand twitched toward the dagger.
Ash used to make very good, responsible decisions. The kind of decisions that moved one fast through the ranks and garnered a lot of trust. He was a safe bet. Until he was assigned to keep an eye on Theo.
Now he makes questionable decisions. He joined Roarshack for a short time, playing the keyboard. He and Stark worked together to cast a spell that hid the Abyssal Atlantis from the view of mortals in 2009. It’s also believed that he is involved, possibly romantically, with the being known as Charm DeVoid.