“Lessons in Witchcraft” [PG] – 6/9

 

“LESSONS IN WITCHCRAFT”

Chapter 6

NOTE: In the previous chapter, Olivia instructed the Halliwells on meditation methods and color magic. The story picks with Olivia trying to recruit Cole to help her with the lessons. 

————

Cole sat inside his penthouse living room, two days later while he listened to Olivia unfold a proposition to him. The moment she finished, Cole promptly replied, “No.”

“What?” Olivia pouted. “Why not? You know more about this subject than any of us.”

“The answer is still no.”

Olivia resorted to another tactic. She begged. “C’mon Cole! Please?” She gave him the full blast of her green eyes. “I really need your help on this one.”

Cole merely gave her a cool stare and said, “Too bad.”

“Cole!” An idea came to Olivia. “If this is about Phoebe . . .”

The half-daemon contemptuously rolled his eyes. “Trust me, it’s not.”

“Then why . . .?”

He sighed. “Piper. She can be a real pain in the ass. I don’t exactly look forward to spending an afternoon . . .”

“Morning and afternoon,” Olivia corrected.

Cole stared at her. “In that case, the answer is definitely no.”

Surprised by Cole’s stubborn refusal to help her, Olivia desperately added, “Look, I know that Piper can be difficult. Who isn’t? I certainly am. Besides, since when did you have so much trouble with her? I mean I know that she’s not particularly fond of me . . .”

“Trust me,” Cole growled. “Her feelings for you are practically benign, in compare to how she feels about me. The only times she had ever really treated me as a member of the family, was after Prue’s death. When they needed the extra firepower and when I had lost my powers and was deemed safe. Hell, she and Leo had once tried to vanquish me with that damn potion, when Phoebe was a banshee. And all I had to do was show up and be annoying.”

Olivia gave Cole a shrewd look. “My, we are bitter, aren’t we?”

Cole’s eyes penetrated hers. “Comments like that won’t get you anywhere.”

“You mean you’ve changed your mind?”

“No. I’m just pointing out a certain fact of life.”

It took all of Olivia’s will power not to throw the nearest object at her very stubborn boyfriend in a fit of anger. Anger – she finally realized after her temper had cooled down – that would not serve her purpose. Instead, she tried one last tactic. Surrender.

Olivia stared at Cole, wearing a downtrodden expression on her face. She sighed. “Okay, I give up. You don’t . . . I guess I can understand why you don’t want to help me with this next lesson.” Another listless sigh left her mouth. “I guess I’ll have to endure Doubting Piper by myself, again.” She paused dramatically. “Alone.”

Exasperation mingled with self-disgust in Cole’s blue eyes. “Oh God! All right! I’ll . . . I’ll help. Shit! I’m really not looking forward to next Saturday.” He gave Olivia a dark look, worthy of his reputation. “You know, someone will have to compensate me for this.”

Olivia pressed her body against Cole’s, and slid a hand underneath his shirt. Giving him her most sultry look, she murmured, “Well, we can start by heading for your bedroom.”

“Forget it.” The half-daemon coolly removed Olivia’s hand. “You’d enjoy it, too much. I’m talking about something that will make you suffer . . . just as I will, next Saturday.”

Apprehension gripped Olivia. She eyed Cole warily. “Like what?”

Cole hesitated. “Well . . . Harold Carter’s weekly Friday night dinner is coming up. And I’ve been given a command to attend.” He paused stared directly at Olivia. “Guess who will be joining me?”

Olivia’s eyes widened with horror. She recalled the last time she had attended one of Carter’s dinner parties. It had been an exercise in boredom – at least for her. The quality of the food had not helped. “Why can’t you ask your old buddy, Veronica?” she immediately asked.

“Because Veronica hasn’t asked me to spend half of Saturday, giving lessons on magical beings to my dreaded ex-sister-in-law,” Cole shot back. He continued to stare at her. “Well?”

A long suffering sigh escaped from Olivia’s mouth. Until this moment, she had not realized what a lowlife bastard Cole could be. “All right,” she grumbled. “It’s a deal.” Cole merely smiled coolly and remained silent. Shit!

——–

Heavy gray clouds hovered in the skies above San Francisco on the following Saturday morning. The doorbell rang and Paige raced to the front door to answer it. She greeted Olivia with a cheerful smile. “Hey Olivia! Back for more les . . .?” Her eyes grew wide at the second figure standing behind the red-haired witch. “Cole? Hey!”

Cole smiled warmly at the Charmed One. “Morning Paige. How are . . .?”

“What in the hell is HE doing here?” The outburst came from Piper, who had appeared behind the younger sister.

Paige stepped aside and allowed the two visitors to enter the house. Olivia glanced at the oldest Halliwell, who regarded Cole with hostility. “And how are you, Piper? Ready for more lessons?”

But Piper refused to be distracted. She continued to rant over the unexpected guest. “What is Cole doing here? I don’t recall you saying that he would be joining you. Nor did I invite him.”

Olivia shot Cole an uneasy glance before she replied “I brought Cole here, because I thought it would be best for him to assist me, today. Considering the topic I plan to discuss.”

Phoebe appeared in the foyer. “Is that Olivia? I guess the lessons are about to . . .” She stopped short, at the sight of her ex-husband. “Cole! What are . . . what are you doing here?”

The half-daemon rolled his eyes. “Ask Olivia,” he replied brusquely. “She was the one who dragged me over here.”

Olivia deliberately stepped on the edge of Cole’s right foot, warning him to behave. “He’s here to help me with today’s lesson,” she said. “We’re basically going to discuss a few magical beings – including daemons. On which, by the way, he’s an expert.” She smiled at the sisters. “So, shall we begin?”

Both Piper and Phoebe exchanged uneasy glances, but said nothing further. Soon, everyone was seated either on the sofa, or in various chairs in the living room. Olivia began, “Does anyone have a question, first?” Piper opened her mouth. “Other than why Cole is here?”

Shooting the redhead a dark look, Piper hesitated before she glanced at Cole and asked, “Okay, here’s a question. Why do all demons seem to be naturally evil?”

“Who said they were?” Olivia shot back, garnering a surprised look from the oldest Halliwell. “But before we go any further into that subject, let’s talk about something else.”

Piper demanded, “Why?”

A heavy pause followed, as tension filled the room. Olivia regard Piper with hard, cold eyes. Cole seemed amused by the entire confrontation. “Because I’m giving this lesson.” Olivia added in a deadly whisper, “Piper, if you have a problem with Cole being her, both he and I will both leave and today’s lesson will end – right now.” She paused. “Do you have a problem?”

Everyone else seemed to wait breathlessly for Piper’s next move. Bodies sagged with relief, when Piper murmured, “No. I don’t.”

“Okay,” Olivia continued with forced cheerfulness. “Let’s move on. We’ll start with fairies.”

Phoebe said, “Oh, we know all about them. Piper, Prue and I had met one of them, a few years ago. They’re . . .”

Cole burst into a loud chuckle, catching everyone else by surprise. “What’s so funny?” Olivia demanded.

Shaking his head, the half-daemon replied between laughter, “Oh, uh it’s nothing. I just . . . When Phoebe brought up meeting a fairy, I . . . uh, I found myself remembering how she and Prue were uh . . . affected by the fairy dust.” More chuckles followed. Aware of the others staring at him, Cole’s laughter finally died down. “Sorry.” His mouth twitched slightly.

“As I was saying,” Phoebe continued, glaring at her ex-husband, “Fairies are basically these little magical beings with wings and magic dust. Only children can see them.” A small burst of laughter from Cole followed. In a tight voice, Phoebe finished, “And they reside in the in-between places.”

Barely keeping his laughter suppressed, Cole added, “You mean the veil between the worlds.”

“Huh?”

Cole continued, “That term you used – ‘in-between places’ – is used by children.” He snickered briefly. “The correct phrase is ‘the veil between the worlds’.”

Olivia added, “Also Phoebe, you don’t have to be a child or act like one to . . .” Another snicker escaped from Cole’s mouth. Olivia glared at him. “Cole, honey,” she said sweetly, “get it under control.”

“Sorry,” he murmured.

The redhead continued, “Like I was saying, you don’t have to be a child to see fairies. There are plenty of adults who have seen them. In fact, didn’t you guys have to save a little girl and a fairy from some trolls, without using a spell or fairy dust?”

“Actually, we used a spell,” Phoebe replied.

“Oh. Too bad, considering that anyone can see a fairy. As long as you believe in them.” Olivia paused. “It’s just that children are more likely to believe in fairies – especially pixies – unlike the average adult.”

Realization struck Paige. “Oh! Like Tinkerbell in PETER PAN.”

Olivia nodded. “Something like that. Besides, I believe you guys had another encounter with fairies.”

The three sisters frowned and exchanged confused looks. Paige shook her head. “I don’t think so. I haven’t seen a fairy.”

“Actually, you have Paige,” Olivia calmly replied. “Remember the leprechaun or leprechauns you had to save from that daemon, last spring?”

“Leprechauns are fairies?” Disbelief rang in Phoebe’s voice.

Smiling, Olivia said, “Yep. And so are elves.”

“What about nymphs?” Piper asked.

Cole spoke up. “Goddesses. Minor nature goddesses that live in rivers, mountains and trees. I’ve encountered one or two. Very beautiful. They’re usually pursued by satyrs.”

“And what are satyrs?” Paige asked.

“They’re also nature gods. Only . . .”

Phoebe interrupted. “You mean they’re not evil?”

The half-daemon frowned at his ex-wife. “Why would you think that?”

“Have you seen the way they look?” Phoebe continued. “They almost look demonic.”

A sigh left Cole’s mouth, while Olivia answered, “Trust me, Phoebe, satyrs are not evil. They’re simply randy creatures that like to party and chase after nymphs and other females, to indulge in their lust. They have this tendency to look rather . . . uh, corrupt. Or degenerate. Like over-aged rock stars, only they’re shaped like half-men/half-goats.”

“Hmmm, be still my heart,” Paige murmured sarcastically. Then she asked, “What about dwarves? Are they also fairies? Like elves?”

Cole replied, “Mortals. Dwarves are any kind of life form – animal or plant – that was stunted in growth. So, those seven dwarves in SNOW WHITE? Mortals, like the rest of you.”

Olivia let out a gust of breath. “Well, shall we move on to another subject? Vampires.”

“Ugh!” Paige exclaimed with displeasure. Olivia recalled Paige mentioning her brief stint as a vampire, over a year ago. “Do we have to talk about them? Especially since Cole had managed to destroy them all, when he was the Source?”

“Hmmm.” Olivia fell silent, as she glanced around. “Are you sure about that?”

Apprehension flashed in Paige’s eyes. “You mean to say that more vampires still exist? I thought that when Cole . . . uh, the Source had killed the Queen of the Vampires . . .”

Olivia’s green eyes widened with confusion. “Huh?”

“Alaria,” Cole grumbled. “The ‘self-styled’ Queen of the Vampires. Actually Paige, she was only one of many heads of powerful vampire orders. There are others that still exist. The only reason that you didn’t permanently remain a vampire is that Alaria and her minions, the ones that sired you, were killed before you got a chance to feed from someone.”

“Great,” Paige said with forced lightness, “it’s nice to know there are other vampire orders around.”

Olivia shrugged. “True. Uh, just to let you know, there is another species of vampires. One that doesn’t turn into a bat. They’re a little closer to the human species than your old bat-morphing friends. And if you kill the head of their order, the other members will remain alive. I mean . . . undead.”

“Gee, that’s good to know.”

Piper spoke up. “I have a question,” she said to Olivia. “About your staff. The one you got from Scotland.”

“What about it?” Olivia asked.

“Why is the staff’s knob shaped like a dragon? Aren’t dragons supposed to be evil?”

A long-suffering expression appeared on Olivia’s face. A smirk curved Cole’s mouth, which Phoebe seemed to noticed. “What’s so funny?” the latter demanded.

It was Olivia who answered. “Are you guys in the habit of labeling every being as either ‘good’ or ‘evil’?” A slight touch of contempt had crept into her voice before she could control herself. “It sounds so simplistic.”

Piper coolly replied, “How else can we tell the bad guys from the good guys?” She shot a dark look at Cole.

“If I were you, Piper, I’d be careful of that kind of reasoning. Sometimes, the ‘bad guy’ might turn out to be a powerful ally for good.” Olivia paused, as her eyes turned a deeper shade of green. “Or the ‘good guy’ might end up doing something completely despicable, bringing out his or her darker nature. It’s like my grandfather once told me – nothing in this world is certain.”

The oldest Halliwell continued, “So, are you saying that dragons aren’t evil?”

Olivia’s mouth tightened into an impatient line. “Well . . . it depends.”

“On what?”

The redhead stared at Piper. “It depends upon the dragon.”

“But aren’t dragons supposed to be serpents with wings? That breaths fire?” Phoebe asked. “We were taught that serpents are . . .”

“Evil?” Olivia finished. “According to whom?”

Piper spoke up. “How about the Bible? Remember the snake in the Garden of Evil? The one who had tempted Eve with the apple?”

“I have heard of it,” Olivia replied. “But don’t forget – I’m not a Christian. I was never raised as one. Remember? And that’s why I don’t consider serpents or dragons as inherently evil. That’s a concept widely believed in Western society, and only after the arrival of Christianity. Fire is regarded in the same manner. Why, I don’t know, considering that it’s a natural element like air or water. But . . . if you prefer to maintain this belief, it’s your prerogative.”

The Charmed Ones remained silent. At least until Paige spoke up. “I guess that’s why so many dragons are shown as evil in the movies.”

“True, but I’ve seen a few recent movies in which dragons aren’t portrayed as evil.”

Paige frowned. “You’re not talking about the latest LORD OF THE RINGS movie, are you?”

Olivia shook her head. “No. I doubt that very much. No, I’m talking of movies like DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS andDRAGONHEART.”

“Speaking of a dragon’s heart,” Cole added, “did you know that they used to be sought as a source of power? I think Raynor or the Source went after one for that very reason. I’m beginning to wonder if that was the real reason why so many dragons – at least here in the West – were hunted down.”

“How observant of you,” Piper replied sarcastically.

Then Paige asked Olivia if the staff had originally belonged to her ancestor, Niaghall. The redhead replied, “Yes. It was made specifically for him, by his father.”

“The one who was a demon?”

Olivia nodded. “That’s right, an incubus. That’s why Niaghall was a wizard. He was an adamitici – the offspring of a mortal and an incubus. Or a succubus.”

Paige’s frown deepened. “But shouldn’t Cole be considered a wizard, since he’s half-demon, half-mortal?”

“Mother isn’t a succubus,” Cole corrected.

Concern flared in Phoebe’s eyes. “Isn’t? You mean she’s still alive? I thought she was dead.”

Blue eyes bored into the Charmed One’s dark ones. “I never said that my mother was dead.”

“Oh, I . . .” Phoebe broke off, shaking her head. “Never mind.”

Piper commented, “So, all wizards are the offspring of these . . . incu . . . uh, seduction demons and mortals?”

Olivia shook her head. “No, not all wizards. Some are merely mortals, who have learned the arts of wizardry. The thing about wizards is that they are simply magick practitioners, like us. But their magick is rooted in what you would call“ceremonial” practices. Rituals from ancient cultures like the Enochians, Goetic, and ancient Egyptians. Also, their magick comes from ancient practices from which present-day cultures like Arabic and Cobbelistic are . . .”

“Huh?” Paige frowned at her friend.

“Hebrew,” Cole corrected. “Ancient Hebrew. Present day Judaism and Islam are based upon these ancient cultures. Unlike Wiccans, many of these wizards have been known to accept Judeo-Christianity and Islamic religious beliefs. Especially in regard to angels and daemons. However, there are wizards whose beliefs are rooted, like I said, from other ancient cultures.”

Piper regarded Cole with disbelief. “Wizards are religious?”

Sighing, Olivia replied, “Like other beings, it depends upon the individual. Niaghall, by the way, had never really accepted Judeo-Christianity. He was a Druid, like his mother. Who was a witch, by the way.”

“What about sorcerers?” Paige asked. “Or mages?”

“They’re also magick practitioners. Wizards. And witches.” Olivia paused. “Although sorcerers, for some reason, are considered evil. Wizards who are into the ‘dark arts’. Which really means that they practice magick for unpleasant purposes. I don’t know how on earth they managed to acquire this reputation.”

Paige added, “Dark wizard, huh? Like the wizard Phoebe had killed.” From the corner of her eye, she saw Cole stiffened. Phoebe merely looked away.

Oblivious to Cole and Phoebe’s reactions from Paige’s words, Cole continued, “Another type of wizard is the necromancer. I believe Andre Morrell used to be one. Or still is one. You guys remember him from Bruce’s wedding, right?”

“Cecile’s boyfriend?” Phoebe looked confused. “But I thought he was a priest – a Voo . . . uh, I mean, a Vodoun priest?”

Cole smiled with mild derision. “Andre likes to refer to himself as a priest, or a hougan. But he still has the skills of a necromancer. A wizard. Trust me.”

“And a necromancer,” Olivia added, “is someone who practices the art of raising the spirit of the dead to commune with them. In order to see the future.”

Piper did not look very impressed. “What’s the big deal? We all can communicate with the spirit of the dead. Or ghosts.”

“Necromancers can do more than commune with the spirits of the dead,” Cole continued. “They can also bring the dead back to life. And trust me, that is a rare talent. Very rare.”

“We can do that,” Phoebe added. “Piper, Prue and I once brought our ancestor, Melinda Warren, back from the dead.”

Cole gave his ex-wife a challenging stare. “Permanently?”

Phoebe hesitated. “No. Only temporary.”

“A necromancer can bring someone back from the dead . . . permanently,” the half-daemon explained. “They have . . . special spells or ceremonies to achieve this.”

Olivia added, “And you have one last type of wizard – an alchemist. There are many magick practitioners who are capable of practicing alchemy – including witches. Including my parents.”

“What does an alchemist do?” Paige asked.

“An alchemist uses archaic practices – spiritual and chemical – to refine or purify his spirit and extend his life. He . . . or she can also change base metals into gold. Basically, an alchemist has the power of transmutation.”

One of Piper’s brows quirked upward. “She?”

Olivia explained, “There is such a thing as a female wizard. But for some reason, they’re rarely regarded by that title.”

“Hmmmm, sexism.”

“Before you start bandying that word around,” Olivia continued, “may I remind you that a good number of Wiccan groups refuse to regard or accept men as witches.” She paused. “I think your grandmother had once belonged to such a group. Well . . . once.” She saw Paige squirm with discomfort. Olivia wondered if the youngest Charmed One had recalled Penelope Halliwell’s reaction to having a male as her first-born grandchild. “So,” Olivia added, “anymore questions before we move on?” Paige raised her hand. “Yeah Paige?”

The youngest Charmed One turned to her former brother-in-law. “Cole, what exactly is the Tuatha Dé Dannan? And is it true that you’re descended from them?” Her question produced confused looks from her older sisters.

“The Tuatha what?” Piper demanded. “Paige, what are you talking about?”

Cole sighed. “She’s talking about the Tuatha Dé Dannan. They’re a race of magical people from the Goddess Dann, who had arrived in Ireland from Lochlann or the Islands of the North, thousands of years ago. The Danu people, as they were called, arrived in Ireland bearing with them their Stone of Destiny called the Lia Fail, which they placed on the mound of Tara and ever after, the rightful kings of Ireland were chosen when it called out. They also brought the Spear of Lugh, which ensured victory to whoever wielded it; the Sword of Nuada from whom none could escape; and the Cauldron of the Dagda, from which none would go unsatisfied. First, they clashed with the Fir Bolg, otherwise known as the men of the bags or the pot-bellied ones in the first battle of Magh Tuiredh. And then they helped the Irish people break free from the Fomorians.”

“Who?” Phoebe asked.

Cole continued, “The Fomorians were a race of evil giants who oppressed the Irish. They had demanded that the Irish sacrifice two-thirds of the corn crops, milk, and the first-born of each family.”

Paige wrinkled her nose. “Ugh! I don’t even want to know what they did to those poor kids.”

“Don’t worry,” Cole said, “it all ended badly for the Fomorians. They had first tried to prevent the Danu people from arriving. There’s a story they came to Ireland in flying ships but could not land as the Fomorians had set up a great energy field that they could not penetrate. So the Danu people had to circle Ireland nine times before finding a breach in the energy field and setting down on Sliabh an Iarainn – the Iron Mountain – in County Leitrim. The Tuatha Dé Dannanfinally got rid of the Fomorians, when they defeated the latter’s great warrior, Balor, at the second battle of Magh Tuiredh. And the Milesians at Teltown eventually defeated the Danu people. Since the latter was a magical race, they had decided to go underground into another dimension of space and time. There are many entrances to their dimension at sites around Ireland. One of the most famous being Brugh na Boinne, also called Newgrande.”

Olivia added, “By the way, the second battle of Magh Tuiredh took place on Samhain, which is a Wiccan holiday.”

“Before the Danu people were driven underground,” Cole continued,”one of them had conceived a child with a Milesian or Gael woman. That child turned out to be one of my ancestors, on my mother’s side. The Milesians are supposed to be ancestors of the Sidhe, or the People of the Mounds. You know, there are witches that are part of the Sidhe, today.”

Piper shook her head, frowning. “Are you trying to tell us that you’re descended from protectors of the innocents? On your mother’s side?”

Rolling his eyes, Cole grumbled, “I never said that the Tuatha Dé Dannan or the Milesians were ‘protectors of the innocents’. And as for me being descended from them, it’s true. I’ve taken Olivia to the Danu people’s dimension, many times.”

Both Piper and Phoebe stared at Olivia, who nodded. “We still go there, now and then. For more training on my pyrokinesis. With their permission, of course.” She paused and glanced at her watch. “Listen, it’s almost time for lunch. Do you want to go ahead with the next topic, or take a break?”

“Lunch,” Paige immediately replied. “I’m hungry. My stomach has been rumbling for the past half hour.”

Nodding, Olivia said, “Okay, we break for lunch.” Both she and Cole stood up.

Paige stared at them. “Where are you going?”

“Out to lunch.”

Cole added, shooting Piper a cool look, “Unless Piper doesn’t mind preparing lunch for me . . .”

“I don’t mind,” Piper retorted. The others stared at her. She glared back. “What? He might as well stay.”

The half-daemon and the red-haired witch slowly returned to their seats. Olivia commented, “It’s too bad we’re not at my place. I would have suggested that Cole prepare lunch. He’s quite the chef.”

“Cole can cook?” Phoebe’s eyes widened with surprise.

Piper grunted. “Humph, I guess those “JOY OF COOKING” books I gave you for your birthday, worked out, after all.”

“Actually, I use them as reference books,” Cole replied coolly. “I already know how to cook.”

“Huh?”

Olivia nodded. “Oh yes! He was trained as a chef at the famous Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris, during the 1920s. Isn’t that right, Cole?” The half-daemon merely nodded. Stunned by the revelation, the three sisters stared at him. A smile stretched Olivia’s lips.

END OF CHAPTER 6

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