Templar HQ (Library)

Deep in the underbelly of the Templar Headquarters in the neighborhood of Ealdwic, Corinth sat at a long table stacked with books that he had pulled off the shelves. He had spent hours combing through the old books, cross referencing pictures as well as having to translate various words and phrases. He took a deep inhale off his latest cigarette as he flipped another page, his eyes scanning for anything that might be important.

"You seem to be burning the midnight oil," came a voice behind him. The taps of heels on marble flooring coming closer. "Find anything useful or are you catching up on your reading?" When she reached the table, she pulled the cigarette out of his mouth and stamped it out on the floor. "No smoking in here."

The voice was Dalia's. She always seemed to know where he was, and honestly, that was pretty much her job. Give out assignments, make sure they get done, and report back to the higher ups. Repeat. Sometimes her presence was wanted, but this wasn't one of those times. Corinth was in work mode and he hated getting distracted, especially from his boss, no matter how friendly the exchange was meant to be. And he especially hated when she killed his cigarettes.

"I'm finding plenty. How useful it is remans to be seen." Corinth reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his pill bottle, shaking one out and chasing it with a swig of his water that rested near him. "Stone operated outside the Darkside Market so there is no telling were he got that crystal container from." He pointed to the object that he found from Jack's flat and watched as Dalia picked it up, moving it around in her hands. "With him being dead, there's also no telling how many or what kind of artifacts he still has tucked away. When it gets discovered, that's going to be a bad day for us."

"No point on dwelling on it now. What have you got on this Ivy girl?" Dalia put the crystal back down on the table.

"On her? Nothing that is important as to what is actually inside her or possessing her." He flipped a page and continued scanning away. "She ate three hearts...two and a half if you want specifics, and then stayed in the house for about three days? Why? She could have left whenever she wanted too."

Crossing her fingers in her lap, Dalia leaned back in her chair and watched the veteran Templar. He was her best Charge and she loved watching him work. It was almost as if she could see the cogs and wheels spinning in his brain. "What are your theories?"

"I think her human body was having a hard time digesting those hearts and she had to lay low until she was finished. Then, the Templars came and she had to continue to hide. I believe the entity inside her has the ability to use illusionary magic which is how she hid the entrance to the attic from Jones and his men. The magic must have waned by the time I got there, which is how I noticed it." He flipped a few more pages. "I think this thing is trying to go all Jeeper's Creepers on us."

Dalia had to think for a minute, but decided to ask anyways. "What do you mean by that?"

"I think she is eating the hearts to rebuild herself into her true form. I think what has possessed Ivy is the spirit of something and every time she eats a heart, it makes her stronger and slowly turns her back into whatever the spirits original self is. Which is why when it got the upper hand on me, it said that my Templar heart would be good for her skin. Now, I'm trying to find out what eats human hearts."

Leaning forward, Dalia pulled a book to her and looked it over. "You think the Aztec god Xipe Totec...," she wondered if she pronounced that right, "could have taken over Ivy?"

"Nope, that's why the book is over there. Totec wears the flayed skin of their victims. None of the three victims were missing their skin."

"And no to...Cherufe?"

"Cherufe consumes the hearts of those sacrificed to it and mainly hangs around areas with volcanic activity." More pages were flipped.

She pushed those books away and pulled another closer. "And a no to the Bakunawa?" She read a few sentences and then said, "guess not since this is a large serpent."

"And it's not a Manananggal, Lamashtu, or Abyzou because none of the victims were pregnant and not infants. It's not a Krasue because those feed on animals, it's not a Chindi because it survives off the essence of people and only sometimes the heart. It's not an Ekek, Kelpie, or an Aatxe because those are mostly made up of animals."

"Wow," she said, genuinely surprised. "You really did your homework. We know what it isn't, do you have any idea what it is?"

"Yep," he concurred, tossing a book over to her. It was a book on Greek myths and literature. "She's an Empusa."

Dalai looked the page over, focusing on the picture more than the words. "Are you sure? It says here that an Empusa seduces men."


"If you've been trapped in a bottle for who knows how long, I doubt you'd be very picky on where your meal came from." He leaned back in his chair and rolled his neck around, trying to loosen it up from being hunched over. "When she finally returns to her true self, she's going to have flames for hair, a brass leg, and a donkey leg. Maybe two donkey legs with one of brass...I don't know. Too many sides to the same story." He sighed heavily. "And the worst part is going to be if she gets her wings back and her shapeshifting powers."

His head tilted to the right and he looked over at his Handler. "The world is a smaller place with more people in it. She is living in a buffet right now. Hell, if she learns about the internet, she'll have guys eagerly walking up to her door. She could get very strong, very fast."

"So," asked Dalia placing the book back on the table and crossing her fingers in her lap again. "How do we find and kill it?"

"I don't know yet." Corinth had a real look of worry on his face as his forehead wrinkled from thinking too hard. "We're going to have to wait until she feeds again so we can know where to start looking. Keep that PR team on standby." He reached into his pocket and pulled another cigarette out. He snapped his fingers and lit it.

"There's no smoking in here," huffed Dalia, annoyed at his defiance of the no smoking rule.

"I know."

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