Broken Cage

white spider web on brown wooden wall
Image from Unsplash, taken by Batuhan Dogan

Darren leant back against the wreck of the sofa and looked over to Sir Dylan. “How are you doing these days?”

Sir Dylan shrugged. “I’m okay, I suppose.” He ducked out of the way of a flying mug and flinched as it smashed on the wall behind him. “Do you think we should help out?”

Darren shook his head. “It would be a shame to spoil their fun.” He watched as Flynn grabbed a boggart by the neck and tried to squeeze, but what looked like a werewolf in fur hit him hard in the side and knocked the boggart out of his hold. He spun around, caught the werewolf by the tail and threw it hard against the wall. It slid down, whimpering. Lord Marius, snarling through a spatter of someone else’s blood, was trading punches with Mercury. Mercury was putting up a hard fight, but he was starting to fall back.

“They’re going to have to pay to put the flat right,” Sir Dylan said. “I mean, it’s trashed.”

Darren looked around as one of Lord Marius’ warriors kicked a severed head against the wall where it left a dent and a mark that would be really hard to clean. “The brownies will sort it out. Have you ever seen what brownies can do? They take a real pride in their work. Of course, they’re expensive. If I didn’t have to be so careful, I’d definitely get them in. And they are wonderful when they clean a church. They don’t miss a corner.”

“It’ll need to be a full refit,” Sir Dylan said as an armchair flew across the room and caught a boggart squarely in the stomach, winding them and pinning them down long enough for Flynn to grab them.

Darren ducked out of the way of a stray piece of coffee table. “Lord Marius is not happy to find these sort of games going on. He has strong views. Apart from the risk of getting noticed and upsetting the local Knights Templar, if anyone should be extorting the locals, it should be him.” Darren grinned at Sir Dylan. “Lord Marius will make sure that he confiscates all the profits and it won’t be a hardship to refit this place. All we need to do is make sure that it’s to taste of Mrs Cook.”

Sir Dylan thought of Mercury’s latest victim and glanced around the wreckage. “It will have to be pink.”

“It will have to be completely replastered first,” Darren said as he watched sparks fly from an ambitious elfen next to Mercury.

Steve Adderson, waiting in the wings, raised an eyebrow. “I don’t think so.” He gestured casually and the elfen dropped like a stone.

Darren and Sir Dylan moved back a little as the battle raged. The neighbours were already starting to peer out of their doors and a few phones were being pulled out. Darren shook his head. “We need to wrap this up.” He nodded to Steve. “Any chance of messing up the phones for a few minutes?”

“Not a problem,” Steve said, and muttered a few words.

Darren stuck his head back into the shell of the living room. “We are getting attention and the police will be here soon.”

Lord Marius’ eyes narrowed and he roared with fury, grabbing the reeling Mercury and slamming his head hard into the nearest door frame. It cracked. As Mercury sank to the floor, he looked around. “Get this filth out of here!”

Elfen shimmered around the room. Darren found it unnerving as, without any sort of flourish or warning, the members of Lord Marius’ court disappeared. One minute they were flinging a goblin against the mantlepiece, the next minute both they and the goblin were gone. The remains and captives were whisked away until only Lord Marius and Steve were left facing Darren and Sir Dylan across the unconscious form of Mercury.

“I will make all this good,” Lord Marius said casually. “I’ll get the brownies to clean up and I’ll send an interior decorator to meet with Mrs Cook.” He glanced down at Mercury who was slowly coming to his senses. “I shall also personally apologise to the poor woman, affected by one of my own, taking advantage of an elderly widow.” His eyes narrowed as he hauled Mercury to his feet. “And I shall make an example.” He glanced over to Steve.

Steve was looking grim. He disappeared through a door for a moment and came back with a large shape covered in a grey silk throw. “I have a special surprise for you, Mercury,” he said. “You’ve terrorised elfen and normal for decades, if not longer.” Steve’s cold smile didn’t reach his eyes. “Now it’s your turn.” He pulled off the covering and Mercury flinched at the sight of the broken mirror.

“You can’t do this to me.” Mercury looked desperately from Lord Marius to Steve and then turned to the exorcist and the Knight Templar. “You have to help me.”

“We really don’t,” Darren said. “You have made too many people suffer.” There was a finality in his shrug. “Besides, it’s not our jurisdiction.”

“No, it’s mine,” Lord Marius stated. He nodded to Steve who began a low voiced chant. There were strange harmonics and the remaining glass in the windows vibrated.

Mercury shook his head in disbelief. “You can’t, you can’t…”

Lord Marius held him high and at arm’s length. Mercury thrashed helplessly but Lord Marius’ grip was relentless.

Sir Dylan shivered as a cold breeze ran around the room and he turned away. Darren watched, unflinching, as Mercury was stripped of his glamour until all that was left was a small, skinny twisted thing. Steve checked with Lord Marius, and, at the nod, Mercury seemed to flow and swirl, like oil in water, into the broken mirror. There was a long, inhuman wail, then silence.

Darren walked forward and peered at the shattered reflections. He could see a myriad of himself, reflected in the crazed and damaged glass. And in the very corner, almost out of sight, was a frantic elfen. If he caught the angle just right and tilted his head, he could see Mercury’s mouth opening and closing. There was no sound. “Seems like a just punishment to me,” he said.

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