Beverly Hills 8:25 PM
Wes lay on the floor and Sarah was helping him up when they came. The air suddenly grew immensely heavy, and a gigantic weight seemed to be pressing down on their minds.
“The Auditors have come,” Wes whispered through gritted teeth.
Sarah felt fear, then terror and she fought to maintain control
Several dark shadows suddenly appeared in the room and the feeling grew worse. Fighting back sobs, Sarah fought to keep from passing out and then finding strength she didn’t know she had, she was able to pull herself back from the brink of gibbering madness to merely stark terror.
“You have succeeded, Half Elf. Your woman has managed to get your wife to trap herself. It is too bad that humor is lost on us, but we do appreciate the irony. We are impressed with your human woman, you have done exceptionally well.”
The terror suddenly eased from Sarah, and she felt only cold fear now. It was an improvement, although still far from enjoyable.
“We will take Andrea now back to her own world. We will place her somewhere so that she may ponder her sins for awhile, before letting her go on to her place in the afterlife.”
Forcing himself to speak, Wes managed finally to plead for her. “Must she die? Is there no way I can save her? She did not seek what happened to her, and she did not choose what Gregor did to her.”
“Don’t you realize that you have saved her? Death to your kind is not permanent after all; just an ending and a beginning. If you had not saved her, then she would be meeting a far worse fate, as you well know.”
Sarah could only watch as she saw Wes’s heart break at last, and she felt the tears running down her own cheeks, to her surprise. “But it wasn’t her fault. Can’t she be allowed to live again?” She managed to ask the Auditors in a quivering voice.
“Her mind and spirit must heal and she must receive justice for that to happen. She made others to worship her, and she must learn to never do that again. We shall take her to a shrine, where she will be worshipped, adored and loved as the physical representation of a goddess. To endure the desperate prayers and pleadings of worshippers, helpless to act, until one day she will tire of it and beg for release rather than endure another day of it. Then she will have truly healed, and she will be ready to move on to her next life.”
Sarah tried to come up with something else to say, but finally shocked to her core she couldn’t. Wes could only finally nod defeated acceptance.
“We have decided and so it shall be so,” the Auditors proclaimed.
Wes looked at Andrea one last time. She was stunningly beautiful. She was nude, her skin gold, her hair platinum strands, and her eyes blue emeralds. Her beautiful, perfect body was an artist's dream, and she would be priceless no matter what age or time she was displayed in. Her final expression was acceptance, giving her a calm look of serenity now. He could feel her still in there, and he knew that finally one day she would have peace.
Wes cast a spell and linked with Andrea's mind one last time and she spoke to him.
“I am sorry, husband. Please forgive me for this. Don’t ever forget me.”
“I forgive you, Andrea. I had thought you were gone forever. Please forgive me.”
“You moved on, you thought I was dead. I was you know, I am only finally back again. And now I must go. I will always remember you. Tell Gabrielle not to grieve for me.”
A gray shadow enveloped her, and then the room went completely dark. A brief view of a star field opened before them, and Sarah and Wes watched as the shadows and Andrea vanished into the blackness between those stars. His link with her ended as he was telling her he was sorry. And then Andrea and the Auditors were gone.
Wes sat down heavily on the floor, Sarah catching him and laying his head in her lap.
Beverly Hills 9:30 PM
Sarah felt the vibration of her cell phone, still in her pocket. She and Wes still sat on the floor, trying to recover from the battle and the visit from the Auditors.
“Sarah, are you all right?” Beth asked, her voice tense and anxious.
“Yes, it is over. Andrea is no longer a problem. The Auditors took her away.”
Sarah heard a gasp, and then a long silence. She was too weary to talk and stared numbly around her, waiting for someone on the other end to talk again.
After a few seconds, Beth was finally able to ask. “And is Wes all right?”
“He isn’t hurt.”
Another silence as Beth thought about that and then Cheryl replaced her on the phone.
Sarah struggled to pay attention as she watched Wes walked over to Michelle and stroked her cheek, and then he collapsed wearily on the couch. She was so tired, and just so drained it was a struggle to hear what Cheryl was saying.
Brandi was awake now, hurting but healing and should be on her feet again tomorrow with no ill effects. Paula was the same and both of them, after some rest, would be fine. Kim was devastated and having a difficult time coming to grips with the fact that she had killed someone. Cheryl was worried about her and Riley, who was now fully healed and on his feet, was trying to console her. Grim had been healed, but he was still out and was likely to be for days. He had been severely burned, and although the healing spell was regrowing skin and tissue, he had been placed into an enchanted sleep to avoid his waking up to the pain of it.
“Can you get here ok, Sarah? Or do you want me to come?” Cheryl at last asked when she realized that Sarah wasn’t talking much.
“Yes, I think,” Sarah wearily replied.
A few moments later Riley and Cheryl teleported to the same spot as the other three, and then walked carefully through the burnt area into the back fence. Riley easily helped Cheryl over, and then followed.
Walking through the back yard, they saw a couple of statues, both of older men and wondered about them. Cheryl checked them over.
“Nothing in there, whoever they were, they are gone now,” She said sadly.
They walked through the patio door and into the house and followed the light until they got to the parlor. Both of them stood in the doorway for a moment, taking in the sight. Sarah was curled up in a little ball on the floor, apparently sleeping, while Wes sat on the couch, staring at nothing in particular.
“Wes? Are you ok?” Cheryl asked. Wes looked over at her and Riley, and nodded, before lying his head on the back of the couch with his eyes closed.
Cheryl walked over to the statue of Michelle and checked her carefully. “She is ok, I am going to bring her around now.”
Riley nodded and walked over and picked up the sleeping Sarah and carried her over to another couch and placing her on it.
For Michelle it was a surprise to suddenly awaken to see Cheryl’s kind eyes on her, and she immediately hugged her friend.
“I guess we won then?” Michelle asked looking around carefully.
“What happened to you?”
“Well, I was trying to distract Andrea when she was attacking Wes and Sarah was doing some kind of transference spell. I guess I managed to distract Andrea, because all of a sudden I was a statue.” Michelle said, a little sheepishly. “I kept throwing spells, and I guess I used too much energy because my defenses gave way pretty quick when she hit me with that one.”
Cheryl gave her another hug. “Yes, I think you did just fine Michelle. Esmeralda, the old bat, she would be proud of you.”
Riley and the two women moved Sarah to a more comfortable bed, and then Cheryl had Michelle take Wes to bed with orders to comfort him for now. He looked devastated, and Cheryl could feel his pain. Tomorrow would be time enough to find out what all happened here. Tonight though, he needed rest and it looked like Michelle did too.
Over the next few hours, while the other three slept, Riley and Cheryl carefully searched the mansion. Calling occasionally back to San Francisco to check on things there, and to alley fears on the end, it was a long night.
Beverly Hills Dawn Saturday
Wes woke up next to Michelle, who was clinging to him in her sleep. He gently untangled himself, and then stood up. His head hurt, and he still felt the terrible sadness from last night. He stroked Michelle’s face, marveling at her. She had fought hard, and she and Sarah had saved him. He realized that losing them would have been worse. He lost Andrea long ago, but had found a new life with these women. One day he would have to choose one of them and let the other go, but he found he couldn’t do that today. He realized that one day they would choose for him. He could live with that, he decided.
Taking a moment to clear his head, he remembered that Cheryl and Riley were around somewhere and so was Sarah. Gently rousing Michelle, who woke up bleary eyed, he helped her to her feet and they went in search of everyone else.
Andrea was gone forever now. But he had a new life and new loves, and best of all they loved him. It was time to move on. They had a wedding to go to, and then the careful task of restoring all of Andrea’s victims to some kind of normal life, not to mention dealing with all of the loose ends.
Weeks of work ahead, and he would need a new place to live too. He was at last looking forward to the future.