The Boudreaux mansion was eerily quiet and subdued. Each of the five people who lived there on a regular basis were doing his or her own thing. They were the last surviving members of the New Orleans Assassins Guild, and even though they could have given up the mansion and moved to the Guild safehouse following the unification between their family and their long-time enemies the Thieves Guild, they chose not to give up their privacy or their home. Especially not to go live with the thieves, who they really didn't like.
The oldest of the Assassins, a six-foot-five voodoo master named Gris-Gris, whose personality was as black as his skin, was in his equally dark bedroom on the third floor of the mansion, going through his numerous books on voodoo. Each book contained hundreds of spells, curses and charms, as well as reverse spells. Most of them, Gris had memorized, but some he did not. Those he had not committed to memory yet were jotted down on pieces of paper or bookmarked in the books. As he picked up one of the books, one of those papers floated gracefully to the floor. Gris stared at it for a moment before bending over and picking it up.
"Dat's odd...I don' remember stickin' dis in here..." Gris muttered. "Mus' be gettin' old or somethin'." He unfolded the paper and saw that he didn't recognize the words or the handwriting. And even though he knew better, he read the words out loud, to see how they sounded. When nothing happened, or so he thought, he shrugged and put the paper on the desk with all the others. Then he flipped the book to the beginning and started to read through it, not giving the paper or the words he'd said another thought until five minutes later when somebody screamed in terror.
"What de--?" Gris demanded, jumping up from his chair and racing out of his room. The Assassins were violent killers, and none of them were prone to screaming for any reason.
Gris flew down the stairs to the second floor of the mansion as fast as his feet could carry him. At the landing he froze, eyes wide. He was soon joined by Singer, who hovered beside him and could do nothing but stare. About half-way down the hall, Questa, who was the second-youngest of the group and possibly the most insane of them all, was backed up against the wall, unable to move in any direction. He was the one who had screamed, and for very good reason. In front of him, snarling and slowly advancing, were three large dog-like gargoyles.
Singer looked at Gris. "Don' dey look like all dose statues we have around here? Dere's a dozen of 'em...you don' s'pose...?"
Gris didn't get a chance to reply. From the first floor, a large racket could be heard, complete with the sounds of things smashing into millions of pieces and lots of snarling and roaring from other gargoyles.
Questa looked at his two friends frantically as the three gargoyles continued to approach him. "Uh...do somethin'!"
"Like what?!" Gris demanded as two more gargoyle dogs leaped up the first floor staircase in a single bound. They reminded the three Assassins of the creatures in the original Ghostbusters movie, only somehow, they knew these gargoyles weren't going to be as easily destroyed.
"We have to distract dem an' get out of here!" Singer exclaimed. "Dere's no way we can defeat dem without t'inkin' of a plan first!"
"But how?" Questa whimpered. "From de looks of 'em shootin' 'em is out of de question..."
Singer floated up higher in the air beside Gris-Gris. "I'll blind dem...distract dem wit' my light burst. You two get out of here an' see what Bella Donna an' Fifolet t'ink." Dey're downstairs, fightin' de rest of dese t'ings, from de sounds of it."
"Okay." Gris and Questa nodded in agreement. Singer's entire body began to glow with a bright, powerful light and she whistled. The five gargoyles looked right at her...and right into the blinding light. Seeing that the five gargoyles were blinded and out of commission for the moment, Gris and Questa bolted down the staircase and into the open, spacious rooms that formed the first floor.
The place was a disaster. The furniture was smashed and torn to bits. The very stuffing was spilling out of Gris' favorite chair, which also happened to be the most comfortable chair in the entire mansion. Seven gargoyles, five of them with wings, were tearing around the place, chasing after Bella Donna, who was looking anything but pleased at her inability to stop them with her swords, and Fifolet, who was sending the gargoyles into a tizzy by going intangible every time one of them made a leap for him.
"Bella Donna!" Gris-Gris shouted above the din as Singer joined them, proving to be the precursor of the other five gargoyles, who were now far from happy over being blinded. "We need to get dem out of here!"
"Tried dat!" Bella Donna yelled back. "Dey ain' leavin' de mansion!"
"An' dey're tryin' to run us out, in case you didn' notice!" Fifolet shook his head. "Hey Gris, what did you do, anyway?"
"We don' have time to discuss dat." Bella Donna said. "Let's get out of here. Maybe if we leave for awhile, dey'll get bored an' leave too. Dat is if we can' figure out how to turn 'em back to de way dey were."
"How...?" Questa questioned.
"Everyone make for de door. When we're out, Feef an' Gris, you guys slam de doors shut. Hopefully dey'll stay inside if dey t'ink dey've succeeded in runnin' us out of our home." Bella Donna commanded. The four other Assassins nodded. Within two minutes, the five killers were standing on the front porch of the mansion with the doors safely closed behind them. The gargoyles made no attempt to leave the mansion.
The Assassins began walking towards the city. It was obvious to them they were not going to be getting back into the mansion anytime soon.
"What I want to know is, how in hell did dat happen? Dose stone statues were s'posed to stay stone!" Bella Donna was angry.
Gris sighed, something that wasn't characteristic of him, but it was all he could do. "I found a spell in one of my books...it was on a piece of paper...I didn' recognize it or de handwritin'...come to t'ink of it, it was prob'ly Candra's doin'. Wouldn' surprise me. Anyway, I read it out loud, b'cause it didn' look like any other spell I've seen."
"Gris-Gris...!" His four companions all whined in unison.
"I know, I know! Stupid."
"It didn' happen to have a reversal spell, did it?" Fifolet hoped.
"Not dat I could see." Gris admitted. "Sorry."
"Well...what's done is done." Singer said as she floated along with them. "I bet we could get Remy to blow 'em up for us. Let's not worry 'bout it. De real question right now is, where are we gon' stay until we can contact Remy an' get rid of dose gargoyles?"
"A hotel? I am not askin' de T'ieves if we can stay at de safehouse until dis blows over. Dey don' want us dere anymore'n we want to go dere, so why put de extra pressure an' tension on all of us?" Bella Donna said.
"A hotel would be a good idea..." Questa commented. "But do we have any money?"
They stopped in the middle of the road and searched all their pockets. Every one of them came up with nothing. No money, no interac cards, no credit cards, not even a cheque. It was Bella Donna's turn to sigh.
"We don' have a choice. We have to go to de safehouse. Wit' de unification dey more or less have to let us in. But I really don'..."
"Humble yourself, Bella Donna." Gris-Gris said firmly. "If I can do it to admit a mistake I made dat caused dis mess to b'gin wit', den we can all do it to ask for help."
"But dis is different dan dat, Gris...!" Bella Donna complained.
"No it is not. You are viceroy of de Unified Guild. Start actin' like it an' stop bein' a baby."
"You sound more like Papa everyday."
Gris chuckled. "Does dat really surprise you? He was my best friend, remember."
Fifteen minutes later, the five were standing on the front step of the Garden District safehouse that was home to the six remaining members of the Thieves Guild, as well as the patriarch of the Unified Guild, Remy LeBeau, when he was in town. Remy, also known as Gambit, was a member of the outlaw mutant superhero team the X-Men, divided his time between the Guild and the X-Men. With a resigned sigh, Bella Donna reached up and rang the doorbell.
Much to their amazement, the door was opened a few seconds later by Remy himself. He had decided on the spur of the moment to come down to New Orleans for a weekend visit. Shirow, the younger brother of Zoe Ishihara, one of the thieves and the only Guild member who wasn't born in New Orleans, was a mutant and a student at the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters, which also housed the X-Men, who taught at the school. Remy brought Shirow with him on this visit, much to Zoe's delight. The thieves were all sitting around the living room with Shirow, listening to his stories about all the antics that went on at school.
"Remy!" Bella Donna exclaimed. "What are you doin' here?"
"I live here, remember? At least sometimes. What brings you guys here dis time of night? If I remember correctly, you have a tendency to avoid dis house like de plague." Remy said.
"Oh...uhm...we kinda need a place to stay tonight..." Bella Donna mumbled.
"What's wrong wit' de mansion?"
"We can' go dere right now. Look...can we come inside an' explain everythin'?"
Remy nodded. "Sure."
The six Thieves, along with Shirow, who had never officially met any of the Assassins except for Bella Donna, stared at the new arrivals. Theoren Marceaux, second-in-command of the Thieves under Remy, spoke for them all.
"What're dey doin' here?"
"Dey need a place to stay." Remy explained. "An' now dey're gon' tell us why."
Bella Donna looked at Gris-Gris. "You got us into dis mess, you tell de story."
Gris sighed for the second time that night and silently cursed himself for being so brainless. "De truth of de matter is, I accidentally brought all de gargoyles in de mansion to life an' dey ain' exactly de friendliest creatures dat ever existed. Which, I s'pose kinda makes sense given all de circumstances, but still. Dey ran us out of de house. It was either dat, or dey'd kill us."
"Can' you turn dem back to normal?" Theoren asked. "I mean if you brought dem to life wit' some voodoo t'ing, which I imagine is what you did, isn' it possible to reverse de spell?"
"Normally, oui. An' maybe it is, I don' know. De spell was one I'd never seen b'fore. It was on a piece of paper in one of my books...in a handwritin' I didn' recognize." Gris admitted.
"Maybe Candra planeted it dere b'fore she died." Remy mused. "Jus' to make somethin' like dis happen. It is a possibility."
"We already t'ought of dat, Rem." Bella Donna stated. "But it don' change de fact dat our home is currently bein' held hostage by a bunch of gargoyles an' we need a place to stay!"
Theoren grinned. "An' you're actually askin'...?"
Bella Donna glared at him sharply but quickly changed her expression, knowing that being mean wasn't going to get them what they needed. "Yes." She said quietly. "We're actually askin'. Will you let us stay here until dis mess is fixed?"
Remy looked around the room. Each of the Thieves nodded his or her consent in turn when Remy's gaze came to them. They weren't going to deny the Assassins what they were asking for; not after what was obviously a very big effort on their part to be humble and civil.
"You can stay." Remy said finally. "But if I hear anythin' out of de ordinary goin' on in here tonight, you'll be sleepin' in de back yard, got it?"
"T'ank you." The five Assassins said in almost perfect unison.
"Oh an' one more t'ing. In de mornin', I'll go over dere wit' you an' see what I can do to help you get rid of your little pest problem." Remy continued.
"T'ank you 'gain, Remy. Dis is really nice of you an' de others, to help us like you are." Bella Donna said as Remy led her and the Assassins up to the guest rooms of the safehouse.
"It's not a problem, really." Remy said. "De others might not be too happy 'bout it, but whether we all like it or not, de two Guilds are unified, an' we can' exactly turn each other out durin' a crisis, compris? Jus' get some rest, okay guys? Tomorrow we'll figure out a way to get you back where you belong in your own home.
SEQUEL: RECLAIMING THE MANSION
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