So after reading the original version of Heart's Desire (well, not the original version, really, but the last version before I cut out Sarah Campbell) I started to wonder if I could save the basis of Michael's story and keep quite a bit of the story.

And my subconscious came up with this lovely bit:

Twenty years ago, Michael Elliott summoned a demon, lost control of the circle, and was spirited away to Hell to rot for all eternity.

Or so the story goes.

In truth, he is an innocent pawn caught in a web of lies and deceit, forgotten by everyone and everything he once held dear, until a novice's mistake gives him one last chance at redemption.

Where it goes from there, I have no idea.

I had thought--in passing--that this might make a good "sequel" to Full Moon, or at least a novel set in the same world, but now I'm not sure. And I don't know who the "novice" is, either. I'm leaning towards it being a Beth-Hill story after all, but it needs to be fairly unconnected to the other series, I think. Maybe. Argh!

I can't write it until after I finish Transformation anyway. And I kind of had Fire and Water on my list to write next.

Unless... I have been trying to figure out how to rewrite Fire and Water with the changes that need to happen.

(spoilers for Heart's Desire ahead. Although, since the entire Karen Montgomery series happens after Heart's Desire and Fire and Water, if you've read those, you already know some of this.)

I've been thinking that after Magdalen's death, Stefan isn't really strong enough to challenge the Hunt by himself. He may want to, but he's more of a follower than a leader, and he lost his leader when Magdalen died.

Stefan blinds Malachi in Fire and Water. Since he's already blind in the Karen Montgomery series, I can't change that (sorry, Malachi!) and don't worry, Malachi gets his revenge.

What if Stefan decides to turn the tables on Magdalen?

What if he unearths her body from the depths of the house and carries it away--

She was, in truth, more bones than body when he finally plumbed the depths of her watery grave. He had to work in darkness, of course, for fear that the Council or the Hunt would discover his efforts and try to thwart him from his path.

His own Hounds would be no match for the Wild Hunt. Not yet, at least. But they kept watch, and warned him when anyone approached, and thus it took him the better part of a year to sort through the debris to uncover Magdalen's remains.

When he found her, he wrapped what was left of her in a blanket and carried her to his hiding place, deep inside the forest and behind the Veil.

I am thinking that he needs to have a pawn in this. A child, probably, because a child could be passed off as a student and could potentially steal books from Darkbrook. Because Stefan's going to have to do a lot of research as to how to bring Magdalen back from the very, very dead.

Or, I supposed Stefan could finally figure out how to force his two remaining Hounds to shift shape. And one of them could be his spy. Hmm. I like that.

So anyway, what I'm envisioning is that Stefan's Hound will find a book written by Michael Elliott, or at least a paper, or some notes. Stefan will get interested, uncover the fact that Michael was left to rot in eternal torment in Hell, and decide to summon him back to ask him what he knew about raising the dead.

Because that sort of thing is extremely taboo, and I'm thinking--oh, I just remembered that Althea mentions Michael in the beginning of Heart's Desire when she is plotting against Josiah. Hmm. I could change that, of course. It's one or two mentions, not major plot points.

So... say I change that. Okay.

Or, you know, Althea could have been the instigator of Michael's imprisonment. Except Althea is dead, and I can't see her not wanting to get something for herself if she did plot against Michael.

So say Michael just made a terrible mistake. And now his story is synonymous with what not to do, magic-wise.

"Once upon a time--"

"I thought this was supposed to be a
scary story!"

is a scary story. Just wait. Once upon a time, there was a student here at Darkbrook named Michael. Michael Elliott."

"There really was a Michael Elliott," a whisper drifts out of the clustered students, and the storyteller nods.

"Yes. There really was a Michael Elliott. He's in the yearbook if you want to find him, oh, thirty years ago or so. He was a brilliant student; at the top of his class. Everyone thought he would have the next seat on the Council, but he started his last research paper on a topic his teachers weren't pleased with--the summoning of demons."

"Ooooh," someone whispers, and one of the younger girls jumps.

"He had also written a paper on resurrecting the dead--he had a formula and everything, but that paper was, some say fortunately, lost."

"Did he ever succeed?"

"He did," someone says, and laughs. "Haven't you wondered why Old Higginbotham is still teaching?"

The storyteller waits until the giggles die away, and then continues with his tale. "Michael knew what he was attempting was very dangerous. That's why you don't see anyone teaching that discipline today; the summoning of demons is a very tricky spell to master, and even Lucas Lane himself would not attempt it."

(That in itself was impressive, because most of the students held Lucas in awe.)

"But Michael wanted to impress the Council, his teachers, and everyone else. So on Halloween night, he drew a circle right in the middle of this very room. You can still see it if you stand in the right position; they were never able to completely wipe away the burned spots on the floor."

Some of the students shift uneasily at this; they are sitting
inside the circle, but the storyteller doesn't want to lose his audience quite yet.

"He spoke the spell to summon the demon, but before he could finish it, the circle shattered. One of his witnesses--a teacher--died in the blast. When the smoke cleared, Michael had vanished, and only the echo of his screams remained."

On cue, a cold wind whistled through the hall with a keening cry. One of the students shrieked; a couple of them fled, but the majority remained, albeit pressed closer together.

"Did the Council try to find him?" one of the boys whispered, his eyes wide.

"The Council tried to find him, but they found no trace. The only thing they can surmise is that when the circle shattered, Michael was snatched away to Hell, where he will remain for all eternity."

"But couldn't someone summon--"

It was the obvious question. Couldn't someone attempt to summon Michael Elliott and free him from damnation? The storyteller had always wondered if anyone had tried, but on that question, the legend that had grown up around Michael's fatal mistake remained silent, and the Council had never come right out and said that they had tried.

"If they had summoned him--and succeeded, what do you think they would have received?" the storyteller asked. He had answered that question for years, and always in the same way. What would they have found? A broken, remnant of a wizard, perhaps insane--perhaps not, but how would they know they had received Michael instead of a demon in disguise? And letting a demon loose on the world was much worse than losing one single student.

"That's not a scary story," one girl declared. "That's a sad story. I feel sorry for Michael."

"There are no books in the library on the summoning of demons," the storyteller said, ignoring the girl's proclamation. "There never will be, not after what happened to Michael." He leaned close, and readied the spell to cast the circle into illumination. "Sometimes, if you listen hard enough, you can hear him scream--"

The circle blazed; the students scattered. Later on, they would creep back in pairs to trace the path of Michael's circle, or find the yearbook in the library and marvel in whispers over what had happened.

But for now, they would go to bed and lie awake, waiting for a demon to snatch them from their beds or the ghostly scream of a dying wizard to color their dreams.

The storyteller waited until he was sure they were gone before releasing the spell to let the circle fall back into disuse. And then, he stood for a moment, remembering Michael, before allowing himself to fade away as well.

Because without the ghosts of Darkbrook, who else would keep the old legends alive? And maybe, just maybe, the stories he told would avert another tragedy; save another life.

Having lost his while attempting to save Michael Elliott, he knew he had to try.

Hmm. I could work with this. I could work with this quite nicely. Obviously, Stefan's Hound is in the audience here. And obviously, he reports back to Stefan that one Michael Elliott had written a paper on resurrecting the dead. And obviously, Stefan decides to do the unthinkable and summon Michael, intending to force him to give up his secrets and return Magdalen to life, thinking that by now Michael will be weak and willing to do anything for a chance at freedom.

But Michael's not stupid either...

Okay, that completely goes away from my synopsis in the very beginning of this post, but I can work with this.

Now I just have to finish Transformation.


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