By Julien Gregg

Book 1 - Chapter 2
The Darkling

"The Charmed Ones?" Damon asked with wide eyes. "What does that mean?"

"It means that you are the world's greatest defense against evil," replied Narise with a warm smile. "You are the most powerful witches in history."

"Wait," said Dean. "I know about the Charmed Ones. My great great grandmother was a Charmed One. Are you telling me that we're the new Charmed Ones?"

"The Charmed legacy began with the first member of your family to learn the craft," she replied. "Her name was Melinda Warren. She was destroyed because of her craft, but she vowed that each member of the Warren line of witches would be stronger and stronger until the arrival of three sisters. They would be the most powerful witches the world had ever seen. They were the Charmed Ones.

"Through the joining of the Charmed Ones and magical beings such as White Lighters and Cupids, the Charmed power was intensified with every offspring. Now the three of you possess the Power Of Three. That makes you the Charmed Ones reconstituted."

"So we have the Power Of Three?" Drake asked. "What is that exactly?"

"It's the greatest power in the universe," she explained. "The three of you, together, are next to impossible to defeat. You will learn to work together and use the Charmed powers to protect each other and the innocent from every form of evil."

"The Charmed power?" Dean asked.

"The eldest cousin will move things with his mind," she said. "The next oldest will stop time while the youngest will have visions of the past and future, premonitions of what is to come. Of course the three of you also possess your inborn powers as well."

"So we have to stay together?" asked Damon. "Here in San Francisco?"

"It isn't a requirement for survival," she said. "However the Power Of Three will only work when the three of you are physically together. There are demons that can only be vanquished with the Power Of Three."

"So we stay together," said Dean with a sigh. "When will we receive the Charmed powers?"

"You already have, Dean," she said with a wide smile. "The three of you are so powerful that you shine. Be warned though, evil can see that shine just as well as good."

"And what if we get in over our heads with evil?" Damon asked. "What do we do when our powers aren't enough to destroy the threat?"

"The Power Of Three will set you free," she said. "Be there for each other and always trust in the power."

Before they could say anything else those golden sparks engulfed her and she was the glowing ball of light that floated over their heads and through the window into the night. She was gone.

Mr. Pollock followed them downstairs to the ground floor where he made his apologies and left them alone. They weren't interested in practicing with their powers that night. The house would be full of well wishers the next day and they needed sleep. After cups of hot tea with honey they retired to their new rooms.

Dean lay in bed thinking about what Narise had said. He was a Charmed One now. What would his mother have said about that if she'd known? Would it have made any difference to her? Knowing that he was one of the most powerful witches in the world did nothing to calm the fear that was in his heart when he thought about the demon that killed his father. No power in the world could heal death. He was sure of that.

Damon was having similar thoughts. He supposed Dean had been telling them the truth about the demon that killed his father. What he couldn't get his mind around was being Charmed. What did it mean? Narise had said it meant that he was a part of the world's greatest defense against evil. Could he fight evil? Could he fight demons? He wasn't so sure about that. He'd never seen a demon before in his life and he was sure that they were likely the most powerful force in the world.

Dean stared at the pictures of his parents as he lay in his bed that night. A Charmed One. Had they known? It seemed completely possible. His father had been terrified that he would discover the truth about the family. Was this why? Did his father know somehow that he would be a part of the most powerful trio in history? It made his head hurt to think about it. Giving up on sleep he went back to the attic to look at the Book of Shadows. He found his cousins when he got there and smiled. It seemed that he wasn't the only one with insomnia.

"Join the party," said Dean with a smile when he saw Drake come through the attic door.

"Looks like the two of you had the same idea," said Drake as he sat on the old couch next to Damon who had the Book open in his lap.

"There's a family tree in here," said Damon, pointing to the entry in the book. "It traces the family line all the way back to Melinda Warren."

"That's amazing," said Drake as he looked at the names of his mother and father just above his own name.

"There's more," said Dean. "The first Charmed Ones wrote entries into this book too."

"What kind of entries?" he asked.

"Demons they vanquished mostly," said Damon. "It's all here."

"I thought a Book Of Shadows was supposed to have spells in it," said Drake through a yawn.

"This one has plenty of spells," said Damon. "There are so many that I don't even know where to start. There are spells to reverse time, accelerate time, hear and speak the truth, find lost items, conjure the dead and so many more."

"Conjure the dead?" Drake asked. "You mean the way the lawyer conjured our grandfather?"

"Yeah," said Dean. "It's all here in this book."

"All of that?" Drake asked as he gazed at the book.

"That and the demon that killed my father," Dean said, looking away.

"His name is Ash," said Damon. "He's the leader of a faction of demons that is responsible for the deaths of thousands. It's called 'The Kin'. It says that the Power Of Three is needed to vanquish Ash."

"That's us," said Drake as he stared at the picture of the red skinned demon with wings.

"This demon killed our parents," said Dean in a tone they didn't recognize. He wouldn't look at them. "They tried to vanquish a Power Of Three demon and it got them all killed."

"We have the Power Of Three," Drake said slowly. "Couldn't we . . ."

"No," Dean said forcefully, causing his cousins to jump. "We won't go looking for Ash. If he comes for us we'll be ready. There's a spell in the book to vanquish him."

The look in his eyes was haunted. Drake couldn't imagine how he was feeling. Knowing that a demon had killed his parents was one thing but to actually remember it happening would be horrible. He wouldn't wish that on any child. Dean had been forced to live with that memory for the better part of his life.

The well wishers began to arrive at noon the next day. The cousins were tired but did their best to talk to everyone who showed up. There were so many Halliwells in the house that Dean had trouble remembering each of them. He did wonder if they knew that they were the Charmed Ones though. Narise had said they shined. Could good witches see that shine?

"You look lost in thought," said a blond girl as she came to stand in front of him. She was the most beautiful woman Dean had ever seen. Her blond hair fell to the middle of her back and her green eyes shined like emeralds. She had a soft smile on her face as she looked into his eyes.

"I'm sorry?" he inquired stupidly.

"I said you looked lost in thought," she repeated. "My name is Lacy Keaton. I live across the street."

"I'm Dean Halliwell," he said, extending his hand.

"It's nice to meet you, Dean," she said, shaking his hand and sending a warm feeling through Dean. "I used to come and sit with your grandfather from time to time. I'd read him the newspaper."

"Thank you," said Dean. "I'm sure he was very happy when you were around."

"Excuse me?" she asked with a smile.

"I mean that he was happy to see you," he said quickly. "I'm not sure but I think that not many people came to visit him."

"Well he was a great man," she replied. "I'm sorry that he's gone."

"Me too," said Dean, thinking about the fact that he could conjure him whenever he wanted. Keeping this secret was going to be hard.

Across the room Damon was sitting on the sofa alone. He was thinking about his father and what he would say when he found out what was happening. He was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he didn't see the young man that sat beside him until after he'd been there for a few minutes.

"I'm sorry," said the young man. "I didn't want to disturb you. I was just taking a break from talking with everyone."

"No problem," replied Damon with a smile. "My name is Damon."

"Trevor Banks," said the young man as he shook Damon's hand. "I live next door. I used to do yard work for your grandfather from time to time."

"Thank you," said Damon as he looked into the darkest eyes he'd ever seen. Trevor was a very attractive guy with darker hair than his own and eyes that looked like onyx. He smiled and Damon's stomach flipped.

"If you ever need anything I'm just next door," he said before he stood and shook Damon's hand again. "It was nice to meet you. I hope that you and your cousins will be staying here in the manor."

"It looks like we'll be here at least for a while," said Damon as he stood up as well.

"Well like I said I'm just next door," said Trevor as he smiled at him.

Damon watched him walk out of the living room before he started to look for his cousins. Dean was in the living room as well and he was talking to a pretty blond woman. Drake wasn't in the living room. He went into the dining room and found him talking to one of the lawyers. He walked over and joined them at the table.

"Young Damon," said the lawyer that Damon didn't know. "I was just telling your cousin about P3."

"P3?" Damon asked, looking from Drake to the lawyer and back.

"It was a night club owned by the family," said Drake. "He was telling me about it. I guess our great great grandmother opened it."

"I see," said Damon. "Sounds cool."

"Yeah," said Drake with an excited smile. "I want to stay here and run it."

"You want to run a night club?" Damon asked, smiling.

"Yeah," chuckled Drake.

"Well, Mr. Drake, I'll come back in the morning to take you over to see the club," said the lawyer as he extended his hand.

"Thank you," said Drake as he shook the man's hand. Then he seemed to flinch and close his eyes.

He saw himself and the lawyer at the club, but the lawyer was dead. There was a man standing over his dead body, but the man was as black as night. Not just his skin though. His clothes, hair; everything about his was midnight black. Drake shuddered as the vision left him. He could only stare at the lawyer in shock.

"Are you all right?" the lawyer asked with concern.

"Yes," said Drake as he pulled his hand out of the lawyer's. "Just tired. It's been a long day."

"Well then I should leave you to get some rest," said the lawyer, putting his card on the table. I'll come back around ten tomorrow morning to take you to the club."

"That would be great," said Drake, standing up.

"Until then," said the lawyer whose name was Bradley according to the card he'd put on the table. Damon had picked it up and read it but then went back to looking at his cousin. Something strange had happened to him and he wondered what it was.

"Where's Dean?" Drake asked as soon as the lawyer was gone.

"He's in the living room," said Damon. "Are you all right?"

"We have to talk to Dean," Drake said, walking away from his cousin and into the living room. Damon got up to follow.

Dean saw them from across the room and one look at Drake's face told him that something was wrong. He excused himself and headed for his cousins. They led him out of the room and up the stairs to the attic. He wondered what was going on. He didn't think they should be going to the book while there were so many people in the house.

"I think I had a premonition," said Drake as they closed the attic door.

"What?" Dean asked, turning to look at his younger cousin. "When?"

"Just a few minutes ago," he said, running his hand over the back of his neck. He was sweating.

"What did you see?" Dean asked.

"I was shaking Mr. Bradley's hand," explained Drake. "He's one of the lawyers that's handling the estate. He said he would come back in the morning to get me and take me to P3 so I can look around."

"P3?" Dean asked, looking from Drake to Damon.

"A night club that we own now," said Damon.

"Any way," said Drake. "I saw a man, or something killing Mr. Bradley at the club."

"What did the guy look like?" Dean asked as Drake went to the book. He flipped through the pages before he stopped on one and pointed.

"He looked like that," he said. Dean walked over and looked at the page and began to read.

A Darkling is a powerful evil assassin. They kill by touch and are almost impossible to detect or stop. They hide from bright light and are never seen around cold environments.

"Is there a vanquish?" Dean asked.

"I don't see one," said Drake. "I don't know how to stop them."

"All right," said Dean, running his fingers through his hair. "I'm going to call Mr. Pollock. You guys go keep an eye on our guests. We still have a house full of people."

Twenty minutes later the house was empty again. The cousins sat in the dining room to wait for Mr. Pollock to get there with Mr. Bradley. They said nothing but each of them were thinking about the darkling and how to stop it. They didn't know how to use their powers much less kill a demonic assassin with them.

When the lawyers arrived they got straight to the point. Mr. Pollock wanted Drake to tell him all about his premonition while Mr. Bradley wanted to see the entry in the book about Darklings. Then they were all talking at once. Dean wanted to know how to use his powers while Damon wanted to know if it would be possible to just stay away from the darkling. Drake wanted to know if all of his premonitions were going to make his ears ring and his head hurt.

"We don't know how to use our powers," Dean said when everyone was quiet. "I don't know how to move things with my mind, and I'm sure that Damon doesn't know how to freeze time or he'd have done it by now."

"I didn't do anything to get the premonition," said Drake. "It just came to me when I shook Mr. Bradley's hand."

"But something tells me that our powers aren't going to be as automatic as Drake's," said Dean. "We're not ready to go up against a darkling."

"You said that my mother could freeze time," said Damon. "You said you saw her freeze Ash after he killed your father. What did she do?"

"She put her hands up in front of her and Ash was frozen," replied Dean. So Damon put his hands up in front of himself. "Not like that. Close and open your fingers when you do it."

He did that and nothing happened. He tried it two more times and nothing happened. He sighed and put his hands down. Then something occurred to him and he tried it again. This time Mr. Bradley was frozen but the others weren't. He looked at Mr. Pollock with wide eyes after he put his hands down.

"You've done it," said Mr. Pollock. "You've frozen Harold."

"But I didn't freeze the rest of you," said Damon as he looked around the table.

"That's because good witches don't freeze," explained Mr. Pollock. "Harold isn't a witch. The rest of us are."

"So Damon's found out how to use his power," said Dean. "That still doesn't help me."

"Damon, what did you do before your power worked for you?" Mr. Pollock asked.

"Well at first I just thought about freezing time," he replied after a moment. "Then I decided to just freeze the room. I don't think I can freeze more than a room at a time."

"But how did you know what to do?" asked Dean.

"I don't know," admitted Damon. "I just did it."

"That doesn't help me," sighed Dean as he looked at the open book on the table. All at once it closed as if some kind of strong wind had blown it shut. He gasped and sat back in surprise.

"You did it," said Damon. "You used your power."

"But I don't know how I did it," said Dean. "I was just frustrated."

"Try it again," said Mr. Pollock. "Can you move anything else?"

Dean looked at the empty coffee mugs on the table. He chose Mr. Bradley's because the man was frozen and wouldn't notice. He thought about the mug moving across the table and then he saw it in his mind. As soon as he saw it happening in his mind the mug began to slide across the table just as Mr. Bradley came to.

"There," said Mr. Pollock. "I'd say the two of you have a grip on your powers now."

"I think we'll all be going to the club tomorrow morning," said Dean with a small smile on his face.

"Don't get over confident, Dean," warned Mr. Pollock. "Your powers will make it easy to thwart all sorts of evil but if you take them for granted it could get you killed."

That sobered them quickly. Each of them had forgotten that they were really no match for any demon at that point. They hadn't even known they were witches two days before much less the Charmed Ones. Damon still hadn't decided if he wanted anything to do with witchcraft. He'd been dazzled by his power and now he was scared again.

The lawyers left them with assurances that they would return at ten the next morning. The cousins retired to their rooms where they got little sleep as they thought about what was going to happen the next day. They were literally going to look for evil. Drake wasn't sure what he could do to help them. His power was premonitions. It wasn't very active and in the end it wouldn't do anything to stop a demon. If only he had an active power.

The lawyers were back at ten the next morning just as they'd said they would be. The cousins were more nervous than the night before as they got into the SUV and headed out of the driveway. Drake was especially nervous because he had no way to defend himself in a battle. What did they think he was supposed to do?

The club was in a commercial area of the city not far from the docks. It was a basement club in a dark brick building. The sign on the awning said "P3". Nervously the cousins followed the lawyers down the stairs and into the dark club. Mr. Pollock flipped his wrist and the bar lights came on revealing an empty club. Chairs were stacked on tables and glasses lined the bar. There was a stage at the back of the huge room with a set of drums and microphones. Lights surrounded it and another sign like that on the awning hung on the wall behind it.

"The club was very popular in your mother's day, Drake," said Mr. Pollock. "She and a friend of the family reopened the club and it thrived for six years before her death."

Drake nervously looked around at everything and was happy about what he saw. He could see people dancing and drinking here. It would be a great club. At the moment all he could think about was the darkling. He wondered where it was. It was supposed to be there already. At least that's what he thought. He hadn't seen much in the vision.

"What do you think, Drake?" asked Dean as he came to stand beside him.

"It happens over there," Drake said, pointing to the empty dance floor. "That's where it kills Mr. Bradley."

"That's not what I was talking about," mumbled Dean as he looked over at the empty dance floor.

"I want to leave," said Damon as he came to stand beside his cousins. Before any of them could say a word the lawyers walked further into the club. When they got to the dance floor, Drake nearly called out to them. Instead the three of them stood and watched as all of the shadows in the club merged together to form a man. It was the same man that Drake had seen in his vision.

Without thinking, Damon raised his hands and Mr. Bradley and the dark man froze where the stood. Mr. Pollock turned to look back at the cousins and found the darkling frozen right behind him. He stepped back as Drake rose his own hands. Without thinking he opened his hands and bolts of electricity shot from his hands and surrounded the darkling. He stood there with wide eyes and looked at his cousins.

Dean turned back to the darkling and without even knowing what he was doing he brought his right hand to his mouth and kissed his palm. Then he opened the hand and blew over the spot he'd kissed and an icy wind shot forward and engulfed the darkling. It wasn't frozen anymore after that. It screeched and screamed as it twisted in the electricity and cold blast. Then the room suddenly flooded with light and Damon gasped.

Dean turned to look at Damon as the darkling exploded into nothing but shadows again. The electricity faded as did the blast of cold air. Then the club was dark again. Only the lights on the dance floor and bar were lit. They looked at each other in confusion as the lawyers came back to stand with them.

"What did you do?" Damon asked Dean.

"I don't know," he replied. "I did it without even thinking."

"Me too," said Drake. "My hands were raised before I even realized what was going to happen."

"I just thought that if the darkling was in the light it would be easier to fight it," said Damon. "And then there was light everywhere."

"Those are your inborn powers," said Mr. Pollock as the lawyers reached them. "It seems they were automatic in this case."

"I do have an active power," said Drake with a look of wonder on his face as the others looked at him.

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