By Kim McFarland
|" The moments of happiness...
We had the experience but missed the meaning.
And approach to the meaning restores the experience
In a different form..."
From T.S. Eliot's "The Dry Salvages" in Four Quartets
It was a dark and stormy night. At least, it was over one mansion in the Negaverse St. Canard. It usually was; a thunderstorm had made its permanent home over McCawber Manor. It was conspicuous, but it and the moat that caught the runoff water added a bit of ambience that its inhabitant appreciated.
Inside, a woman in a filmy, low-cut black dress turned what looked like an ancient wooden puzzle box inlaid with gold in her hands. Grudgingly its halves began to slide past each other. They locked together in a new configuration. A corner of the box twisted freely now. She pressed with her thumb on a gold pattern, and it clicked inward, allowing other parts of the box to twist and slide into new positions.
She looked up at the reddish, caped goat that was standing in the middle of a pentagram inscribed on the floor and grinning back at her with amusement. "This wouldn't be another of your 'little jokes', would it?" she asked, irritated.
"Joke? Me?" he asked, feigning innocence. "Would I do that?"
"Yes, you would." she answered, still fiddling with the puzzle.
"Now, honey, you wanted to summon 'a nameless creature of unmitigated evil from another dimension'. This'll do that. But there has to be some challenge to it, eh?" Seeing her skeptical expression, he added, "What d'you say we make a bet on the side? Bet you your soul for one o' mine."
"No, thank you, Lucifer. I can manage this myself."
"Suit yourself." He shrugged. "Be seein' you, kid." He vanished from the pentagram with a puff of sulphurous smoke.
She continued experimenting with the box. She knew that he would give her exactly what she bargained for - but he would add his own 'humorous' twist on it, so she had to be careful how she asked. He probably thought it funny to give her a demon imprisoned in an insoluble puzzle.
Then, inside the box, the pieces clicked into place and it began to open. Hastily she put it in the middle of the pentagram that the goat had been standing in. She watched as it unfolded and a void spread upward. But instead of solidifying into a demon, it formed what looked like a hole in the air.
"What in the world?" She looked into it. Inside, she could see a chaotic whirling of colors, spiraling away into an infinitely long tunnel. It looked strangely familiar - then she remembered. Ten years ago she herself had created something similar to this. This was a gate to another dimension. So, she supposed, the demon would make its own way through this passage. She certainly was not going to go in after it. It would be Lucifer's crowning joke to lure her into Hades, and then close the gate behind her.
"Give it up, Negaduck! You can't evade the long arm of the law that holds the sword of Justice!"
"The most dangerous thing about you is your mixed metaphors!" Negaduck called back as he ran through an alleyway.
Darkwing raced after him. When he turned a corner he found himself in a blind alley. Negaduck was taking something out of his cape. Darkwing drew his gas gun. Negaduck threw a canister to the ground, releasing an opaque cloud of red smoke. A loud buzzing began. Darkwing jumped into the red cloud, and to his surprise fell through a duck-shaped hole in the fence. Negaduck had chainsawed his way through. Darkwing looked ahead and saw Negaduck wave back at him and call, "Adios, idiot!"
"You'll never escape!" Darkwing scrambled up and resumed the chase.
Negaduck ran down a side alley, drawing his gun as he did. He turned and waited for Darkwing to turn the corner. Darkwing did not appear. Unbeknownst to Negaduck, Darkwing had gone around the building to cut off his escape route. Now Darkwing fired a gas cartridge at Negaduck from behind. Startled, Negaduck fled the cloud of tear gas, dropping his weapon.
Neither Negaduck, blinded by the tear gas, nor Darkwing, on the other side of the gas cloud, saw the dimensional gate open in front of Negaduck. Negaduck ran into it, and it snapped shut behind him. When Darkwing ran around the fading gas cloud he found only Negaduck's gun.
Negaduck felt a brief floating, flying sensation, as if the laws of gravity had suddenly ceased to operate. Then he crashed to the floor. He rubbed his eyes, which still stung from the tear gas. When his vision cleared he saw that he was now inside a dimly lit room. He glanced behind himself just in time to see the dimensional gate close.
Negaduck picked himself up. He was familiar with the kind of interdimensional portal he had just stumbled through; he had used one years ago to travel back and forth between the Negaverse and Darkwing's universe. The destruction of that gate had left him marooned in Darkwing's universe for ten long years. So where was he now? He ran to a window. Just outside was the St. Canard skyline. It was obscured by smog.
"I'm HOME!" he exclaimed joyously.
The first order of business was to find out what condition his old dominion had gotten into in his absence. Negaduck had worried that the Friendly Four had turned St. Canard into some sort of Utopia while he was away. That fear turned out to be groundless; St. Canard was just as he had left it. Then who was running the show now?
He learned quickly that although everyone in the old underworld haunts he used to frequent knew who the boss was, nobody was willing to speak about her. It had taken him some time even to find out that it was a she. His patience exhausted, he found a likely information source and described in vivid detail what he intended to do if his questions were not answered, quickly.
When Negaduck loosened his hands from around his informant's throat the bulldog was more willing to talk. Negaduck calmly began, "Once more, from the top. Who or what is running St. Canard?"
The bulldog hesitated. He remembered Negaduck from the days when he had been St. Canard's dictator. The little duck was dangerous! The dog began, "She's a witch-"
"She must be, to have you so scared you can't even say her name!" Negaduck threatened to slam the dog against the wall again. "Who's more dangerous to you right now, her far away or me right here?!"
"No! She's a real witch. If you say her name, she may notice you - and you don't wanna know what she can do when she gets mad!"
"I don't give a rat's - a witch? With a temper? That wouldn't be Morgana McCawber, would it?"
The dog flinched. Negaduck tightened his hands. The dog nodded fearfully.
Negaduck laughed. "So our lady of the night finally made something of herself!" He released the bulldog. "Why didn't you just say so?" Still laughing, he headed for the door. "Hey, barkeep! A round for everybody! It's on him." He pointed at the bulldog, then left.
Negaduck could not believe his good fortune. Morgana McCawber! They had worked closely together before his untimely estrangement from The Negaverse. She had originally been a good witch. Negaduck had recognized her potential and won her over to the criminal world. In fact, she had created the original gate between the two dimensions. Apparently he had taught her well; she had the entire city terrorized.
Now that he thought about it - he was willing to bet that she had created the gate he had fallen through just hours ago! She had to be - who else would would landscape a house with a perpetual thunderstorm and a moat? Of all the luck! He hurried back.
Morgana was examining the space where the gate had been. It had vanished and the puzzle had refolded back into the original cube. Any demon that passed through should have been snared in the pentagram surrounding the gate. But something had come through, and had escaped from her house. This must be one of Lucifer's little pranks. Now she would have to recall the whatever-it-was that had been set loose.
As if on cue, a puff of red smoke appeared at her window. She spun around. "I don't know what you've..." she trailed off, her mouth open in surprise.
"I am the rip in the condom of justice! I am NEGADUCK!" he announced, enjoying her shock.
When she found her voice she said, "Negaduck?!"
"In the feathers. It's been a long time, toots."
"How'd you - I thought you were in another universe!"
"I was. I got back through your gate. I see you've kept yourself busy while I was on vacation." He gestured out the window, towards the smoggy skyline.
"Well, yes." She seemed flustered. "I didn't know how to get you back, and somebody had to take over..."
"Good job, too. You got 'em so scared they won't even say your name." He removed his hat and bowed exaggeratedly. "I approve."
"There are a lot of advantages to being a witch." She smiled and folded her arms. "What good are magical powers if you don't use them?"
"Just like firepower." Negaduck agreed. "Well, I'm back now."
"Yesss..." The implication hit her. Negaduck wanted his old position of power back! Morgana, however, did not intend to step down for him. She had worked too hard to make this city hers! She would have to figure out how to deal with him. "So, Negaduck ... did you manage to take over the other St. Canard?"
"Several times. There's just one thing that keeps tripping me up - Darkwing Duck." he spat.
"Darkwing Duck? I thought you'd've gotten rid of him."
"Yeah, well... the little twit's like crabgrass. I keep mowing him down, and he keeps coming back."
"I know what you mean. I have the same problem with The Friendly Five."
"THEM? Those idiots are still around? Why don't you just zap them into ashes?!"
She shook her head. "Magic doesn't work that way. They're protected from my spells."
"Protected? By who? And when did the Four become the Five?"
"They are now led by a witch. Magica DeSpell. She blocks all of my powers. I can't even spy on them with my scrying mirror because of her."
"You can't swing a dead cat in this city without hitting a witch or two, can you." Negaduck muttered. "I could've wiped those weaklings out in a minute."
"Well, why don't you, then?" she asked, irritated.
"You think I can't, don't you? You think I can't trash those feeble do-gooders? Hah!"
"I'd like to see you try!"
"Well, what else would you have brought me back here for?"
So he thought that she had summoned him on purpose? Well, she would not disillusion him. "We were quite a team, before you left me. I wanted you back." she lied.
"Ah, ever the businesswoman, eh?" He folded his arms and looked at her slyly. "So, what's it worth to you, Morgue?"
"Oh, I'm sure I could make it worth your while." she smiled alluringly.
He ignored the innuendo. "Whatever. You know what I want."
"Of course. Why don't we step into my parlor? My workroom is such a dull place for a business discussion."
"Sure." He went through the door to the parlor.
They sat on an ancient-looking sofa. A Black Widow spider crawled out of a cushion in time to avoid being squashed, scuttled up Morgana's arm, and glared at Negaduck from its perch on her shoulder. Negaduck asked, "Still with the bugs?"
"Mehitabel isn't a bug, she's a familiar!" She petted the spider. As if on cue, two bats flew into a holding pattern above her head.
He leaned back and set his feet on the table. "Y'know, Morgue, you wouldn't be like this if you had a pony when you were a kid. So, you brought me back here. What d'you have in mind?"
"Oh, Negaduck, relax." She laughed. "There's no hurry."
"Just trying to keep the conversation interesting."
She touched his cheek affectionately. "That shouldn't be a problem." she murmured.
He looked at her carefully. "Y'know, Morgana, you're more beautiful than ever."
"Why, thank you!"
"I see you've managed to find a pretty powerful facelift spell."
She considered slapping him. Instead she said, "Do you work at being such a creep, or is it just a gift?"
"I practice." he said, satisfied, and closed his eyes.
"There's one thing I've always wondered, Negs." she began again. "After all the time we worked together, I never found out one thing..."
"I've always wondered what your name is."
"Negaduck." he answered without opening his eyes.
"No! I mean your real name."
"Neg A. Duck. Look it up."
"You must have a real name!" she was becoming exasperated.
He opened his eyes. "That is my real name. As far as who I used to be, he's been dead for years and years, so what's it matter? Unless you want to use my original name in a spell? There's some sort of power in that, isn't there?" He glared at her accusingly.
Caught! "Oh, don't be so suspicious, Negs. I was just curious." she laughed and touched his hand. Again he declined to react. "I wouldn't do that to you."
"Oh, I'm sure."
"Why don't I get us something to drink. Back in a flash."
He smile faded as soon as she left the room. If she stayed in there one moment longer she would slap him. He was every bit as abrasive and exasperating as she remembered. And he had recognized her attempt to gain control over him. A hidden name did have magical power. She would need some other sort of link - feathers would be perfect, but how to get them from him?
She whispered a few words to her bats. They saluted, then flew into the parlor. After several seconds she heard loud cursing. She ran back in, and saw the bats harrying Negaduck. He was snarling and swatting at them with his hat.
"Eek! Shriek! Come back here!" she commanded.
The bats flew past her, into her workroom. She laughed. "You have to forgive them - they're not used to you yet. You know how familiars are."
"I'll forgive 'em with a tennis racket next time." Negaduck grumbled, putting his hat back on.
"Back in a minute."
Back in her workroom, she told the bats, "Give them to me."
One swooped down and deposited a single white feather in her hand. "Only one?" she asked, dismayed. The bats shrugged.
She would need to use her magic to bring him under control, all right. But what kind of spell should she cast on him? Mind control would effectively put him on a leash, but it would blunt his sharp edge too. Take away his nastiness, and what was the point of having Negaduck around at all? She needed something that would force him to ally himself completely with her, but would leave his personality otherwise intact. That would take a pretty powerful spell - and she would need a stronger link to him than one feather!
A smile spread over her face. She knew how she would get more feathers from him without him noticing, and at the same time get back at him for ignoring her all these years. This would be fun! She directed her bats and spider to mix the drinks while she set to work casting a spell.
She found a palm-sized seashell. She placed the feather in it, then selected an unburned black candle. She held the candle over the shell and whispered a few magical words. The candle obligingly melted into the seashell, covering the feather with black wax. Before the wax solidified she added the other ingredients of the spell. "Ambergris... a dash of civet... a pinch of a Black Widow spider's web... and a Spanish fly." She stirred the wax and added a wick. A few more magic words solidified the wax.
She smiled at the homemade candle. It was an innocuous looking spell, but always effective. This would bring Mister Untouchable down a few notches!
She directed the bats to bring in the drinks. Negaduck looked skeptically at the table. "This wouldn't be another spell, would it?"
She feigned innocence. "How could you say that?"
"Just in case-" he picked up the glass nearest himself and held it out to her. "Ladies first."
She sipped from the cup. Handing it back to him, she said, "Happy?"
"Ecstatic." He drank from the glass.
She touched the candle's wick. A flame appeared. She picked up her own glass. "So, do you like what I've done with St. Canard?"
"Yeah - I thought the Four - the Five, that is - would have taken the place over."
"I couldn't let that happen. They cleaned up the city, but they couldn't keep it clean. I just picked up where you left off."
"I didn't think you had it in you."
"I was taught by the best."
"Sure..." His eyes looked unfocused. He shook his head as if to clear it. Peering into his glass, he said, "Are you sure you didn't slip something in here?"
"Oh, for-" She switched her glass with his. "You're just out of practice!" She downed the contents of the glass to prove it.
"Oh." The stuff must have been pretty strong - half a glass, and his head was spinning. He put the glass down on the table. Then he glanced up at Morgana - and stared.
Morgana had to fight to keep a straight face. I have you now, you misogynistic jerk! She put her arm around his shoulders. "I'll tell you what I bought you here for, Negaduck. I want an alliance. You used to run St. Canard; I do now. Together we would be unopposable! What do you say to that?"
"Yeah." He was not speaking to her face.
She put the glass down on the table, then put her hand on his other shoulder. "Some people seal a bargain with a handshake..."
"But I have something different in mind, old friend..."
The flame burned high in the candle.
In another part of St. Canard, a witch frowned as she stared into a crystal ball. No matter how hard she concentrated, the clouds inside would not take any shape she could make sense of.
A young redheaded woman looked in on her. "Magica, are you still looking for something?"
Reluctantly Magica DeSpell looked away from the crystal ball. "Yes. So far, I find nothing."
"Maybe there's nothing to worry about."
"No." Magica looked back at the crystal ball. It was still frustratingly murky. "Trouble is brewing, dahling. A witch can sense these things. The reason I can't see what it is must be that Morgana McCawber is at the center of it. Just as I shield you and the rest of the Four from her spells, so she blocks my magic." She sighed. "Whatever it is, it is powerful. It feels like a storm on the horizon."
"You can tell all that?" The redhead was impressed.
"Yes, dahling. If only I had been able to get Scrooge McDuck's lucky dime! That charm would give me power enough both to stop his schemes and pierce Morgana's spells!"
"Should I warn the others for you?"
"No, Gosalyn, I will. When I know more. The storm is still in the distance. Maybe as it approaches I will be able to see more clearly."
"All right." Gosalyn left reluctantly.
Magica listened to her fading footsteps. She had a suspicion that they would have to protect Gosalyn in particular from this threat, but she did not know why just yet.
Some time later, a triumphantly disheveled Morgana entered her workroom. The seashell spell had worked admirably; she had gotten as many feathers as she needed, and Negaduck was none the wiser. In fact, the spell may have worked too well - she had almost forgotten the feathers.
She thought to herself that Negaduck's reaction was not quite what she had expected. Then she thought, what had she expected? Well, bruises, maybe. Now that she she thought about it, though, it was not surprising that he had been rather clumsy. Not many women would willingly put up with someone who was totally apathetic to the opposite sex. Long ago, Morgana had suspected that it was not women that he liked. As time went on, she had realized that he simply hated all people.
What would he think when he woke up? Probably that she had fed him a spell in the drink after all. But it wouldn't matter. She had decided how to take control of him. What better way to control a man than through a love spell? The thought made her want to laugh. Negaduck, the man who hated the world as a whole and every part of it (but himself) in specific! It would serve the little bastard right.
She would be able to work a more powerful spell now. She had the materials - his feathers - and the time. He would be out of it until morning. She considered several possible approaches, then settled on the most tried and true method: sympathetic magic. It was the basis of many kinds of spells, including the old voodoo doll technique.
She lit an oil lamp by touching the wick, and set some wax in a pan above it. As the wax melted she began to concentrate. By the time it was completely liquefied she was in the right frame of mind. She poured the wax into a mold and while it cooled enough for her to work with her hands she selected a forked mandrake root.
She shook the wax out of the mold and shaped it around the mandrake. As she did she pressed the feathers into the the wax. Soon a rough approximation of a duck had taken shape in her hands. She considered it briefly, then lit a black candle and held it over the face of the wax doll. The wax that dripped down formed his black mask.
Leaving the candle burning, she stared at the doll, naming it in her mind. When she felt ready she lit a red candle and dripped wax onto the left side of its chest. Quickly, while it was still liquid, she took a small photograph of herself and pressed it to the wax, so that it stuck. She pressed a rose thorn through the picture and into the wax. Finally, she took some cord and began wrapping it around the doll's torso, covering the wax and the photograph, binding them together.
When she was finished she looked at her handiwork. It was no work of art - it looked like a ball of twine with a forked root protruding from one end and a head and shoulders of wax emerging from the other. But in Morgana's mind it was Negaduck, and that was what gave the spell power. The spell was easy to cast and uncast; if she did not like its outcome she could undo the spell simply by taking the doll apart. To complete the spell she filled an inscribed metal cup with water and placed her athame, her ceremonial knife, point down inside.
Satisfied, she placed it on a shelf with numerous other wax figures. Unlike this one, they were not wrapped in twine; their only decorations were scratches and pinpricks. She put the doll in the back, where it would not accidentally be seen by its namesake.
She walked back into the parlor. He was asleep on the sofa. She started to walk past it and to her own room, then looked back at him. He was still wearing his coat and cape. She knew well what a fop he was - he would hate to find his clothes wrinkled because he had slept in them. She took off his coat and cape, leaving him in his red turtleneck shirt. She draped the coat over the back of the sofa, then placed his hat over it. After one more look back, she went to her own bedroom.
As she had predicted to herself, he did not awaken until after noon. Some things never changed. When he woke up he muttered, "I had the strangest dream. And you were there-" then he caught sight of her and stopped, eyes wide.
His expression of shock was comical. She smiled pleasantly. He breathed, "It wasn't a dream."
"No, it wasn't."
"We." she corrected. "I'm going to get you an aspirin."
"Back ache. You'll need it, honey wumpus."
It soon became clear that although the spell was working on him, the results were again not quite what she had expected. Most people reacted by becoming as affectionate as puppies. Instead, Negaduck was baffled, and tried to resist the effects of the spell. It would take some additional work to bring him around. That was fine. Morgana liked a challenge.
She started pitching her alliance idea again. "I already have most of the important people in St. Canard under control. Anyone who isn't under another witch's protection, I can take care of."
"How? Bolt of lightning?"
"I have methods just as effective, but they take less power - and scare people more." She picked a wax doll off of the shelf.
"Voodoo dolls." Negaduck said.
"Right. Anyone I become 'interested' in, I make a doll of, and then if I get annoyed I can let him know." She demonstrated with a straight pin.
"That's nasty. That's really nasty." He paused. "I like that in a woman."
"I know you do." She smiled alluringly.
He had to make an effort to break her gaze. Nervously he looked back at the dolls. "You must have hundreds of those things. That's why people are so scared of you they won't even say your name, isn't it? You can get 'em from outta nowhere."
"That's one of Launchpad, isn't it? When did the old psycho go over to the other side?"
"Oh, no." She picked the doll up. It was textured by dozens of shallow pin pricks. "He sometimes forgets who the boss is, so I remind him."
Lightly she touched his cheek. "I was taught by the best, remember?"
His face suddenly felt warm. He caught his breath and said, "Uh, isn't that Magica there?" He pointed to one of the figures.
She took the doll down from the shelf. "Unfortunately, I can't harm her with it. Or any other of the Five."
"Then why did you make the dolls?"
"I've been hoping to find a way to drain Magica's powers. With her defenses down, even for a minute, I could use it." She put the doll back.
"Why not just throw a lightning bolt or a meteor or something at them?"
She shook her head. "I can't attack them with magic."
"Her protective spells are too strong. Think of it this way: you could decimate them with a machine gun. But not if they are standing behind a stone wall."
"At least, since she must spend most of her energy on protective spells, she has little power left to attack me with. If only I could get some inside information on them, I could find some angle-"
"Say - do we have to use magic for that?"
"What do you mean?"
"Suppose they were to meet up with their old leader, Darkwing Duck!"
"You've never met him, have you? He looks exactly like me, just in a different colored costume. I could impersonate him!"
She had been waiting for him to come up with this idea. Leading him, she asked, "Could you really fool them?"
"Piece of cake. I do it all the time. Nobody ever catches on. All I need is a pink and purple costume."
"That can be taken care of." She gestured magically at him, then said. "Look down."
He did. "Just right!"
"I'll show you where they live." She beckoned him over to her scrying mirror. "Magic mirror on the wall, to my enemies' home I call!"
An image of a building appeared in the mirror. Negaduck recognized it. "The Karl Barx Library. In the middle of town. Kind of brazen for a hideout. Can you see inside it?"
"Yes, it is brazen, and no, I can't see into it. Magica protects it with her spells." She wondered how many times she was going to have to reiterate that one point.
"So, I'll just slip on down there and, when I'm inside, clobber 'em! Easier than poisoning pigeons in the park."
"No! If you fail, they might kill you."
"Morgue, I've been risking my life for as long as I can remember. They can't get me, I'm too mean to die! And..."
He looked away. "I'll be risking it for something that's worth it." he murmured, embarrassed.
She put her arms around him. "Honey wumpus."
He closed his eyes. If he looked at her now he would not be able to think straight.
When she released him she said, "Just make them think you are Darkwing. Win their confidence. Find out what their plans are. Later on, I promise you'll be able to take whatever revenge you choose."
"If you have the opportunity, get some feathers from them. I can use them in spells."
"Feathers? What for?"
"If I have a direct link to the person I'm trying to cast a spell on, it makes the spell much more powerful. But that's only if you get a chance. Don't risk your cover for it."
"Yeah." He touched her hand, then, flustered, dropped it. "Well, I'm off to see the wizard."
She watched him leave. He had it bad, all right. And, like this, he was actually almost decent company.
As Negaduck went to the Five's hideout he tried to formulate a plan of attack, but his thoughts kept wandering back to Morgana. He had known her for years, before he had been trapped in Darkwing's universe. Had she always been so beautiful? And why couldn't he think straight whenever he was near her? Come to think of it, why couldn't he think straight now?
One thing he was sure of - she was right in wanting to team up with him. It was a perfect match. The matter was settled for him. Right now the point at hand was to eliminate all obstacles to their complete power. So stop thinking about her and plan, dammit!
"I am the terror that flaps in the night. I am the weight on the scales of justice!"
Everyone in the room turned to look at the window. A duck stepped out of the smoke cloud and announced, "I am Darkwing Duck!"
He surveyed the room. His entrance had had the desired effect. Megavolt, The Liquidator, Bushroot, Quackerjack, and a young redheaded woman were staring, dumbfounded, at him. "Well, kids, how's the cleanup work going?" 'Darkwing' asked.
Quackerjack spoke. "Darkwing Duck?"
"Isn't that what I just said? I came back to see if you'd managed to make The Negaverse safe for democracy after I got rid of Negaduck for you. Look what I found instead!" He folded his arms and shook his head with mock disappointment.
Megavolt said, "We've tried! But after you defeated Negaduck, Morgana McCawber took up where he left off."
"You're telling me you let yourself be beaten by a woman?" 'Darkwing' demanded.
"She's a powerful witch. At least with Negaduck you knew what was coming. Morgana can strike anywhere, anytime! And when she does-" Bushroot shuddered. "She's even meaner than Negaduck!"
"Meaner?" 'Darkwing' echoed.
"Meaner. If we didn't have a witch leading us, we'd be pushing up daisies by now!" Bushroot said.
"That's nothing new to you, Reggie." Quackerjack commented.
"Meaner." 'Darkwing' repeated dreamily to himself.
Magica was watching the scene in her crystal ball. She could just as easily walk into the room, but she wanted to observe without being noticed. The rest of the Five seemed to know Darkwing, and Gosalyn was glad to see him too - of course she would be, considering that he had rescued the poor girl from Negaduck ten years ago! - but why didn't Magica feel right about this?
If Darkwing had crossed over from his home universe, why hadn't she sensed it? Magica "listened" closely to the ether; a spell powerful enough to link two universes should have set up vibrations like an earthquake! But there had been no sign of any unusual magical activity. Perhaps if the spell had been cast in the other universe it might not cause a disturbance here. But she would not bet on it.
"Looks like I got my work cut out for me." 'Darkwing' was saying. "Five of you, and you can't even take care of one witch. What you guys need is leadership."
"I can't believe you've finally come back!" Gosalyn managed at last.
'Darkwing' flinched, then looked at her. She had been so quiet until now that he had hardly noticed her. But now that he thought about it she looked familiar, and that awful sugary voice... She hugged him. "Do you remember me? I'm Gosalyn. You rescued me from Negaduck last time you were here!"
Gosalyn? He had not even recognized her! Quickly he extricated himself. "Of course! You've become quite a little lady, haven't you?" he said, looking her up and down.
She blushed and started to say something. From the door Magica called, "Gosalyn! I need you."
Obediently she left, but not before flashing him a winsome smile. 'Darkwing' said, "We'll catch up later." He was relieved when she left - the brat could induce diabetes.
Gosalyn followed Magica down the hall to her room. Magica gestured her over to the crystal ball. "Watch with me."
"Why don't you go meet Darkwing? He's here to save us from Morgana!"
"I have a hunch, dahling. Humor me."
As the two watched, 'Darkwing' and the rest of the Five discussed a battle plan. They would mount a surprise attack early the next day, before Morgana could suspect that 'Darkwing' was in this universe. 'Darkwing' would lead the attack himself, the four would support him with their special talents, and Magica would back them up with her spells. On the surface it seemed to be a good, watertight plan, using their advantage of surprise to its best.
'Darkwing' added that since it was well known that he and Negaduck looked exactly alike he would go to McCawber Manor as Negaduck and scout around for the weak points in Morgana's defenses.
"I don't know." Bushroot looked alarmed. "Morgana won't want to see Negaduck, will she?"
"Relax. They're old friends."
"But if they are, won't she be able to tell the difference between you and him?"
"How? We're identical, down to our fingerprints! Put me in a yellow coat and red cape and hat, and I'll have her eating out of the palm of my hand."
"Could you ACT like him? He's a pretty nasty character."
Calmly 'Darkwing' looked around the room. He found a sledgehammer, hefted it in his hands to test its weight, then suddenly threw it at Bushroot. It missed his head by less than an inch and punched a hole in the wall beyond. 'Darkwing' gripped Bushroot around the neck with one hand. "What do YOU think, you sappy little pansy?!" he snarled fiercely, threatening him with his other fist.
Bushroot fainted. 'Darkwing' opened his hand and let him fall to the ground. Once again calm, he asked the rest, "NOW do you think I can pull it off?"
They agreed hastily. 'Darkwing' said, "Meet me outside at McCawber Manor tomorrow. High noon - perfect time for a showdown." Then he vanished in another puff of smoke.
Magica and Gosalyn re-entered the room. While Gosalyn revived Bushroot, Magica said, "I saw all in my crystal ball."
"Why didn't you come out? That was Darkwing Duck!" Gosalyn said.
"Isn't this great? We'll finally wind Morgana up, once and for all!" Quackerjack illustrated with a toy soldier.
"He is so arrogant, so obnoxious, so egotistical-" Magica began.
"That's the Darkwing we know and love." The Liquidator answered.
She spoke to everyone in the room. "You have all met him before, I have not. Was he like that when you last met him?"
"What do you mean?" Gosalyn asked innocently.
Magica closed her eyes and shook her head. "I don't know. Maybe nothing." Something seemed off-key about Darkwing. She wished she could put her finger on what. Her hunches rarely proved wrong, and this one was warning her not to trust Darkwing. If she only knew why! The only thing that she knew for sure was that she had to protect Gosalyn. The child had been through so much in her life; if someone wanted to get to the Five he would of course try to do it through her.
Gosalyn spoke. "I'm sure Darkwing Duck can defeat Morgana if we help him. I know he can."
Magica said, "I hope so."
Negaduck felt inordinately cheerful as he made his way back to McCawber Manor. He would finally wipe those idiots off the face of St. Canard! Magica did not look like much of a threat; she seemed as ineffectual as the rest. Gosalyn - he had not thought of his former ward in years! He made a mental note to kidnap her if he ever needed to threaten them.
He walked into Morgana's workroom. "Morgue, it worked-" Then he stopped and stared, slack jawed.
Morgana was equally startled by his entrance. The red goat, however, looked over and said, "Speak o' the devil, here's your 'creature of unmitigated evil from another dimension' right here!"
Morgana held a hand out to him urgently. "Come here, into my circle! Quickly!"
Negaduck did. The goat looked hurt. "Morgana! You think I'd hurt one of my own?" He waved a hand and the disguise spell dissolved, revealing Negaduck. "He's one of my best field agents!"
"Field agent?" Negaduck repeated.
"Yeah, and I don't even gotta give you instructions. I like a guy who takes initiative! Listen, you got a lot of talent. When your time comes, I got a job waiting for ya. Just grab yourself a pitchfork, go to the main office, and ask for the Boss. Now I'll leave you two lovebirds alone." He clapped his hands together and vanished from the pentagram in a flash of flame.
"Was that...?" Negaduck asked.
"The Master." She answered solemnly. "I think he likes you."
"Well, um, that's good to know, I guess."
"He opened the gate I brought you back through."
"I owe him a favor then." He put his arms around her waist.
She returned the embrace. "We don't have to stay in the circle of protection any more. He's gone."
"So? You got anywhere better to be? I don't."
"You have a point." she smiled. "And I don't think that it's the gun in your pocket."
Later he brought her up to date on his plans. She was as amused as he by the idea of his serving as a double spy. Supposedly 'Darkwing' would gain her confidence, then switch sides when the Five began their attack. They would be expecting retaliation from Morgana - but while they were concentrating on her, Negaduck would finish them off from behind.
Morgana laughed. "I wish I could have seen you take them in. If only Magica's power didn't block mine I could have."
"A minor inconvenience. Tomorrow I'll fix it." He snapped his fingers. Then he suddenly said in dismay, "I forgot to get the feathers!"
"Don't worry, Negs. With the plan you've worked up, I won't need them." She stroked his cheek. "But I do have some spells you could help me with, to prepare for the battle."
"You do?" That was a surprise - Morgana had tried to teach him magic long ago, but all he had learned was that he had no talent for sorcery. "You know I'm no good with that stuff."
"Have you heard of tantric magic?"
"Sounds familiar. What is it?"
"The spell I have in mind will store up energy for future use. Trust me."
They passed the rest of that day practicing that peculiar branch of magic. Negaduck was not sure how the spells were supposed to work - but he did not care for long. And it did not matter that he had little practice with the casting of spells. Morgana had enough skill for the both of them.
The magical activities left them little energy to do anything else. Exhausted, they turned in for the night.
Negaduck woke up in the middle of the night. Morgana was fast asleep, which was unusual; as he remembered, she was more of a night person. But after that evening's activities, she was as worn out as he was. He found out what had awakened him when he sat up. His lower back hurt ferociously. "Ouch." he muttered under his breath.
He got out of bed. Standing made the pain worse. He had to find an aspirin or something or he would not be able to get to sleep again. And while he was at it he would bring some back for Morgana - she would probably be feeling it as badly as he in the morning.
He glanced back at her, and caught his breath. Her feathers, and the white streaks in her long, glossy black hair, seemed to glow in the pale moonlight. She was beautiful! How could he have been so blind as not to realize it when he had first drawn her away from her coven? He gazed at her and felt a tightening in his chest.
He had to force himself to leave the room without awakening her. Her magical lab seemed so still now, without her in it. The circle and pentagram were still intact - in fact, now that he looked closely at them, he could see that they had been permanently etched into the floor. Her athame was still resting in a metal cup, its blade submerged in water. He picked it up. Its edge was not very sharp - but it was a ceremonial knife that focused a witch's powers, not a weapon. He could not read the runes etched in the hilt.
His glance fell on the shelf of wax figurines. Wondering just who she had figures for, he looked them over. He recognized many of them - political figures and rival underworld characters, mostly. Some of them were almost unmarked; others bore the evidence of Morgana's wrath. Each pin in the wax became a stabbing pain for its namesake. He picked up the one that resembled Launchpad and scratched it with the athame, imagining a scream of agony somewhere else. He had to hand it to Morgue. A clever witch was indeed a fearsome force.
He continued looking through the wax dolls, wondering if there was a figure for Gosalyn. That would be handy. If the Five knew that Morgana could torture her on a whim, they would be a lot better behaved. He would have to find out - and tomorrow, if he had the opportunity, he would grab a few of her feathers for Morgana to add to the spell.
One doll in the back looked different. He picked it up. Instead of being made entirely of wax, it seemed to be equal parts of wax, string, and some kind of plant root. When he turned it around he saw the black band over its bill. Shocked, he put it down. It was himself! Morgana had made a doll of him!
Carefully he picked it up again. It showed no sign of abuse. He nicked it lightly with his thumbnail. No pain. He sighed with relief. It was not a voodoo doll! He knew that Morgana wouldn't do something like that to him. It must be a protective spell. A voodoo doll in reverse.
...But what was the string for? Curious, he began unwrapping it. Underneath was the joining of the wax and the root. Around the chest was a piece of paper that looked to have been spattered with wax and then pinned to the doll with a rose thorn. Suspicion arose within him. Would she do this to him? He removed the thorn and carefully separated the paper from the wax with the blade of the athame. It was a picture of Morgana.
He knew now that she had used this effigy to cast a spell on him. It could not have been left over from the old days, either; Morgana's picture was too recent. His vision blurred. WHY? He had trusted her! He wiped his eyes. He now saw that the wax that had soaked through the paper had come from a red smear on the left side of the doll's chest.
He did not know much about magic, but he understood what that meant. A love spell! She had cast a love spell on him! He tore the doll apart and ripped the feathers out of the wax. As he did his rage built. Unsatisfied with this destruction, he chopped it into pieces with the athame.
Oh, she would pay for this! She would! He looked at the knife. It would be so easy, with her asleep in the next room. He swatted the cup of water off the table and went back into the bedroom.
He stood in the doorway and looked at her. In sleep she was helpless. He could hurt her now. He could humiliate her as she had humiliated him. He walked around to her side of the bed. Right now, he could hurt her. Tantric magic indeed! He could show her what he thought of THAT! First, tie her hands so she couldn't cast a spell at him - but he realized that he did not want to touch her. The thought was positively loathsome.
No, he would not take his revenge right now. He wanted to confront her with her eyes open. Tomorrow. A plan started forming in his mind.
He went back into the lab, refilled the cup, and set the athame back inside after cleaning the wax off the blade. The twine and pieces of the doll he carried back into the bedroom and put in the pockets of his coat. The evidence hidden, he went back to the bed. Again he considered abusing her; again the idea repelled him.
He could not bear the thought of being in the same room with her. He took his cape and went to the couch. He lay down there, spread the cape over himself, and did not go to sleep.
When Morgana awakened the next day she was surprised to find herself alone in bed. She put on her clothes, mentally reviewing the spells that she would use for that day's battle.
Negaduck was on the couch. She said his name, and he opened his eyes and glared sourly at her. "What're you doing out here?" she asked.
He sat up stiffly. "I couldn't get to sleep with you - how could I sleep, knowing you are so close?" he said as sweetly as he could.
The flattery worked. She smiled and said, "Let's get ready for the big day."
"Right." he muttered.
She turned and went to her lab. His attitude did not bother her; he had never been a morning person. If anyone thought they had seen him at his evillest, they should look at him before his first cup of coffee!
When the door closed between them Negaduck blew a loud raspberry at her. She came back into the room immediately; Negaduck turned the sound into a sneeze. She said, "Bless you."
"Like you got that authority." he muttered under his breath.
"Nothing. Do the spell that changes my costume. I got do-gooders to dupe." he said brusquely.
Outside, the Friendly Five plus one were waiting. They were hidden by Magica's Sphere of Protection, which rendered them invisible to anyone outside the area of the spell.
"I do not know about this." Magica said softly, as if to herself.
"What d'you mean?" Quackerjack asked.
"This Darkwing Duck - he does not act like I imagined he would. I still think he seemed too authentic as Negaduck."
"He's not a supervillain, but he plays one in The Negaverse." The Liquidator explained.
"I have a terrible feeling about this. Listen, all of you, this is important. If I call you back, come here immediately! No matter what the battle plan was. And, Gosalyn, do not move from this Sphere of Protection."
"But what could happen? Darkwing Duck has taken care of it all." Gosalyn insisted.
Magica sighed. "Gosalyn, dahling, I hope I am wrong. But if I am not - I have sensed grave danger to us all. So do as I say." she said gently.
Soon they saw 'Darkwing' leave McCawber Manor. Quackerjack stepped out of the area of the spell and waved to him.
'Darkwing' looked surprised to see Quackerjack appear, seemingly from out of thin air. He followed him into the spell's area, and was startled again to see the others. "I'll never get used to this magic stuff." he said to himself.
"Okay, here's the deal. Morgana thinks that I'm Negaduck, pretending to be Darkwing to fool you all. At first I'll seem to be on her side. But she thinks that when the feathers start flying I'm going to pretend to run off, then circle back and take you all out from the rear. I'm really going to join you, and when she expects me to clobber you is when we'll all nail her. Got it?"
They all agreed, except for Magica, who said nothing. Negaduck noticed Gosalyn. "What's she here for?"
Magica spoke. "I cannot leave her unprotected."
How convenient! "Morgana will blast HER first. Let me get her to safety."
"No! She must stay here. I have protected her from spells." Magica insisted.
"Look, sister, there's no time for this! We might be standing on ground zero for a meteor strike!" He siezed Gosalyn's wrist.
"She is safest here!" Magica insisted, separating them.
Negaduck refrained from making several speculative comments concerning the fate of her soul. He could not get his hostage without blowing his cover. The hell with it. He glared poisonously at her, then ran back to the castle.
Magica watched him. Then she turned back to Gosalyn. The young woman had gone pale. Magica said, "See, dahling. That was what I needed to protect you from. But I could not be sure until now."
Eyes wide, Gosalyn nodded. The conversation had made her uneasy - but his grip on her wrist and the enraged expression on his face after Magica had refused him had revived old, frightening memories. "Negaduck!"
The rest of the Five now looked as shaken as Gosalyn did. Magica said, "Yes. I was not sure before. Now I know what we're up against." She took out a small crystal ball. "But all is not lost yet. I had planned for this contingency. Get into your positions! And be ready to come to me at my signal! Now go!"
Bushroot hid in a copse behind Morgana's house. Fortunately a good number of trees grew very near the building; their root systems would extend underneath it. He concentrated, and the roots began to strengthen and push father under the building's foundation.
The Liquidator began roiling the waters of the moat. Soon it was rising out of its channel, splashing against the building's walls. Megavolt, standing a safe distance from the water, threw one end of a long cable into the moat. He gripped the other end, electrifying the water.
The building's lights began flickering - the electrified moat was interfering with the power to her house. Negaduck said, "Those fools will waste all their time on stuff like this."
"Magica hasn't done anything yet. She's the only one who could harm me."
"She's inside an invisibility spell, I'll show you where. Just blast her." he said impatiently and headed toward a window. Morgana began chanting a spell.
Magica spoke into the crystal. "Liquidator! Megavolt! Still the moat, no more electricity. Come back to the Sphere. Bushroot, step it up but do it from here. Quackerjack, put the boats in the water."
As soon as the waters quieted Quackerjack wound up five toy boats, all of which were manned with one toy soldier and had one white candle for a mast. Then he returned to the Sphere.
Bushroot caused the roots under the house to press upward against the building's foundation. Ivy grew up the wall of the house and began invading the windows and loose masonry.
The lights stopped flickering. The house creaked and shifted. Negaduck and Morgana had both felt the movement, and now they saw the vines creeping in the windows. She paused in her spell, burned the closest window clear of foliage, and looked out. Negaduck said, "Looks like they've all given up but Bushroot. And I thought Quackerjack was the stupidest of the lot!"
She pointed down at the moat. "What's that?"
A tiny boat was floating purposefully down the stream. "Looks like Quackerjack still has the title after all. Those idiotic things can't harm us. I'll go out and get 'em now. No need for any 'hocus pocus'." He darted out the door.
Urgently Magica asked, "Are the boats in place?"
"Ready - now." The boats had encircled the house.
"Light the candles!"
Quackerjack pressed a button on a remote control box. In the five boats, the toy soldiers raised their flame throwers. The flames lightly touched the candle wicks, lighting the candles.
Negaduck saw the candles in the moat. "What the-?" He ran into the sphere. "The plan's working perfectly, guys. Morgana's not expecting anything. Blast her now!"
Magica shook her head. "I cannot."
"I will not use my magic to harm others. That would make me as evil as Morgana."
Negaduck suppressed a groan. "Then I'll finish the job. The witch is toast!" He dashed back.
As he ran a smile spread over Magica's face. "I have a surprise for you, dahling!" She began to chant. The candle flames burned higher.
At first Negaduck had been upset that Magica would not kill Morgana when she had the chance. But, he realized, he would rather save that deed for himself anyway! He put a smug look on his face and walked back in. "They're sitting ducks, Morgue darling. Blast away!" he said overly sweetly.
She resumed the spell where she had left off.
Magica completed her spell. Lines of light began to spread from the white candles, linking them. As each connection formed the candles glowed brighter. From their position on the ground the Five could not see the complete pattern, but Magica knew what it was. A five-pointed star. A pentagram, created with white candles and light.
On the final word of her spell Morgana pointed at the Sphere of Protection. A lightning bolt leapt from her fingertips. And fizzled over the moat, far short of her target.
Most of the Five had cowered on first sight of the lightning. Megavolt had jumped forward to try to absorb the worst of the shock. Only Magica had not been afraid. "They cannot harm us now!" she announced, satisfied.
"What did you do?" Bushroot asked, still shaking.
"I have set a pentagram around this house, imprisoning all evil inside. Morgana's spell could not cross those lines."
"But what about Negaduck?" Gosalyn asked.
"NO evil can escape." She smiled. "Not just evil spells."
Morgana stared in astonishment at the place where the lightning had died. Negaduck started laughing. She whirled around. "That was not funny! They've blocked off my magic!"
"It is funny. I'll show you what isn't funny." He reached into his pockets and drew out some torn pieces of wax and plant root. He dropped them at her feet.
"What's this?" She picked up a piece of the wax. A shred of paper still clung to it.
"Why, 'honey wumpus', don't you know your own handiwork?"
Then she recognized it. He stepped forward. "For every action there's an equal and opposite reaction." he smiled as he drew the twine out of his other pocket. Holding a length of it taut between his hands at the level of her neck, he advanced on her.
She backed away. "Surely you don't believe..." her voice faded when she saw the cold hatred in his expression.
"Oh, I do believe. And don't call me Shirley!"
She fled into her workroom. He followed, intending to catch and garrote her with the twine. Then his eyes alighted on the knife in the cup. Her glance followed his. She grabbed for it. He was faster than she was, and snatched it first. She dodged behind the worktable, to put herself out of his reach. He did not try to catch her, though. He simply held the knife in both hands, looking at her. "Your athame. The focus of your magical powers. It's very important to you, isn't it." he said almost gently.
She saw what he had in mind, and cursed herself for ever teaching him anything about witchcraft. Standing tall, she held out one hand. "Give it to me. You'll do yourself more harm than me if you use it."
"Wanna bet?" He slashed at her hand. She pulled back just in time. "A pretty dull blade, but I could do some real damage with it. Or to it." He scraped the point against the rough stone wall. The metal sent out sparks. "Hurts, doesn't it? Just like that voodoo doll you made of me!"
"Oh, come on, Negaduck," she began nervously. "You can't really be upset about that silly little spell-"
"Oh, I can't?! You tricked me! I wouldn't have! I've never, never-" Trembling, he scraped the blade viciously against the wall.
"Oh, come on! You liked it, didn't you. There's no crime in giving yourself over to pleasure-"
"There ought to be!" He screamed hysterically and slammed the knife into the wall, as if to stab the stone. The blade bent double in the middle.
Morgana shrieked in fury. Her eyes flashed red. Objects levitated off of the table and flew at him. He ducked, letting them shatter on the wall. He threw a shard of broken glass at a lit candle on the table. It toppled over, setting fire to a nearby collection of magical herbs. While she was dealing with that he unbent the blade and advanced towards her. She dodged around the table, gathering her energy to throw a lightning bolt at him. Then her glance alighted on the puzzle box. She began gesturing as if to cast a spell, and while Negaduck was looking for something to hide behind she grabbed the puzzle box and fled the room.
Negaduck chased her down a hallway. She fumbled frantically with the box, barely able to keep hold of it. When she felt it click and start to open she dropped it behind herself.
He did not recognize what she had dropped, even when it unfolded. He did recognize a second too late the gate that opened above it. Unable to stop, he ran into it. It snapped shut behind him.
He emerged on the other end, still at a dead run, and slammed face first into a brick wall. The gate had opened less than a yard from a building. Stunned, he fell back, mumbling "Curse you, Red Baron!"
He had not recovered when he heard a voice saying, "Can I help you, citizen?"
"Wha-?" The voice was familiar, but he could not quite place it in his groggy condition. If he could just get his eyes to focus- "Who're you?"
The unknown person helped him up. In a normal speaking voice he said, "I am the dove that flies in the light. I am the sword in the hand of justice-"
Negaduck jerked away, suddenly alert. The duck who had helped him up looked just like Darkwing - but in a pastel blue costume. "I am Posiduck." he finished.
Negaduck gaped. Then he looked around. The city skyline was unmistakably St. Canard, but somehow different. The streets were cleaner than he had ever seen in either universe. And the air showed no trace of smog.
"NO!" Negaduck screamed and fled.
All characters copyright © Disney, except possibly Nega-Morgana and Posiduck, who might be © Kim McFarland. Story copyright © Kim McFarland. Permission is given by the author to copy this story for personal use only, provided no changes are made to the story or the credits.
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