Sunday, July 23, 2017

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (2)

"They… didn't. I managed to get here without them seeing me. Then"—Vic tried to pull away when Evan started to lift the hem of the dark sweatshirt he was wearing—"I crawled into your yard, hugged the shadows by the porch, and prayed."
Evan stopped what he was doing for the moment. "I heard someone in the alley, just after you collapsed against the wall."
"That was them." Vic barely smiled. "Guess they were blind not to see me. I wasn't exactly moving fast. But then, they didn't expect me to get away."
"Were they holding you somewhere?"
Vic gave a slight shake of his head. "They caught me, took me out behind my building, and worked me over… while they asked me… questions. Then… I heard someone coming. They did too, so they shoved me into their car. I suspect they were planning on taking me somewhere more… private to continue questioning me. They thought I was unconscious. I wasn't. As they drove I tried to open the door but it was locked. Then"—Vic looked puzzled—"they'd just turned a corner, very fast, and suddenly it opened. I rolled out. Remind me that it hurts when you land. But I was desperate. I saw the alley and managed to get into it before they knew what happened, I guess. The rest… well, I figure I lucked out."
"Probably more than you think, given the situation. I want to check you over, and before you get any ideas about that, I know what I'm doing. I was a combat medic in the Army." Evan started on the sweatshirt again. "Hold out your arms."
"I can do that," Vic protested weakly.
"I'm sure you can, but it'll be easier on you if I do." Evan pulled the sweatshirt carefully over Vic's head and off his arms, whistling low when he saw the damage to the man's chest. "They did—"
"A number on me. You already said that. Not that I don't know."
"Why?" Evan asked, while he gently ran his hands over Vic's torso. "Sorry," he said when he carefully felt Vic's ribs and got a gasp of pain from him. "I need to see if they're broken."
"Don't… think so."
"Me neither, from what I can tell, but we won't know for certain until they're X-rayed."
"No hospital. I told you that."
Evan moved away, staring at Vic. "Why not?"
"I have my reasons."
"No shit. That much is obvious, but if I'm now harboring a criminal…"
"You're not."
"You'd say that either way."
Vic almost grinned. "I would. So"—he staggered to his feet—"for your own peace of mind, I should get out of here."
"You're not going anywhere until you've gotten some rest. I doubt you'd make it even halfway down the street before collapsing. And that presupposes the men who attacked you aren't still out there looking." When Vic grabbed the edge of the table in an attempt to remain upright, Evan put his arm around his waist. "You're going to lie down. My sofa's long enough for you to sleep on."
With Evan's help, Vic made it into the living room, collapsing on the sofa. "If I thought I was hurting before…" He groaned, rubbing his knee. "I think the adrenaline rush has worn off."
"Did you land on your knee when you escaped from the car?"
"Knee, hip." Vic slumped back, looking up at Evan. "I'm a fucking mess."
"I'd say that's a given at the moment, but at least you're alive."

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 45

“Jared knows what you chose to tell him Aidan,” Kenton growled angrily. “You are part of the lies, the machinations dreamt up by the court in their attempt to get the wand and use it to destroy the humans. I will not allow that to happen. I have my spies in the court still; I know what goes on there.”

Aidan jumped to his feet, striding over to stand angrily in front of Kenton. “Whoever your ‘spies’ are they are lying to you. If you don’t believe me use a truth spell.”

Kenton sneered. “It would have no effect and you know it. You can counteract one easily, as powerful as you are.” Kenton looked past him to Mor. “I’m sorry. If you were not aligned with him I might have trusted you and your intentions, but there is no way you can prove to me that it is safe for me to let you study the wand, even from a distance.” With another angry look at Aidan, Kenton pointed to the door. “Leave now, all of you.”

With Aidan in the lead they did. As soon as the door closed behind them Aidan turned to face his companions. “It not true.”

“Then prove it,” Mor said tersely.

“How can I? How do you fight lies when you don’t know who is perpetrating them or why?”

“By searching for the truth,” Jared told him in a quiet voice. “And we can’t do that standing here.”

“Do we trust Kenton enough to think he has secreted the wand in a safe place, safer than it was before?” Daniel asked.

“Do we have a choice?” Aidan replied. “He certainly seems concerned that it will fall into the elven court’s hands. What I don’t understand is…”

“Aidan, let’s discuss this at our place, not out here where anyone who might want to can hear us.”

“No, we’ll go to my home,” Mor told them in a voice that brooked no argument. “Between Aidan and myself we can set the wards so that no one can penetrate them while we talk.”

“You trust me to help with that after what Baesysti  said?” Aidan asked in surprise.

She chuckled. “About as far as I can throw you. However something about this whole thing stinks and I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt for the moment.” As she spoke she took his hand and Jared’s. Jared put his arm around Daniel’s waist and with a few murmured words from Mor they vanished. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 44

“Then you do have the wand,” Daniel said, pouncing in Kenton’s words.

“I’ll neither confirm nor deny that until you explain why you care. I know why Mordollwen does. She craves it for herself.”

Mor nodded. “I won’t deny that I would love to be in control of it. However I strongly suspect that is no longer an option for me.”

“Never say never my dear,” Kenton replied, smiling. “If I have it, and if you prove to me that you do not plan to use it as a weapon against the humans, I just might allow you to study it. For scientific purposes only of course.”

“Of course.” Mor smiled back, trying to keep her raising excitement from showing.

“As for your original statement, why do you care about the wand, Jared? You are neither an elf nor a magic worker.”

“My partner and I,” Jared laid a hand on Daniel’s thigh, “are enforcers for the Council of the Supernaturals.”

Kenton scowled. “You want to get your hands on it so you have yet another weapon in your arsenal?”

“No, far from it,” Jared replied. “Between the two of us, we are quite capable of dealing with most problems without the help of something like that. Besides it’s my understanding that it only works on humans. Please correct me if I’m wrong.”

“You’re not,” Kenton replied succinctly.

“In that case it would do us no good anyway. We would, however, like to keep it out of the hands of a human magician, or a Supe mage or sorcerer who would like to use it as a weapon.”

“As would I.” Kenton studied each of them one by one before apparently coming to a decision. “I will tell you that the wand is in a safe place and nothing more. I’ve lived too long and seen too much betrayal, even by those I considered friends, and so far none of you rate that title.” He stood, pacing away from them before turning back. “You,” he pointed to Aidan, “can tell the court you failed in your mission.”

The shock on Aidan’s face was almost matched by the disbelief on the faces of the others in the room. “I never… I am not their lackey, Baesysti . Ask Jared. He knows.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 43

After what seemed like an interminable wait, the door slowly opened. A regal male with dark hair laced with silver stood there, one eyebrow raised in question. “May I help you?” he asked. Mor stepped into his view and he smiled in amusement. “Have you come to try to reclaim that which you stole from me, young woman?”

“I didn’t steal it, Baesysti ,” she replied indignantly. “I merely moved it so that a creature bent on absconding with it couldn’t get it.”

The elf nodded slowly as if weighing the truth of her words. “Would you have taken it even if this creature had not found it?”

“Well…” She delicately shrugged one shoulder.

Sighing, the elf murmured a few words that Aidan recognized as a spell to drop the strong wards on the house. Then Baesysti  opened the door all the way and stepped back. “Please come in. I think we have things we need to talk about.”

“You may call me Baesysti or Kenton, whichever suits you,” the elf said once everyone was settled in the large but comfortable living room.

While Jared and the others introduced themselves, Aidan looked around the room and smiled. It was done in shades of gold and green and one wall was filled with plants of all sorts. Some stood in pots and planters, flowers and flowering bushes whose aromas mingled to fill the room with the scent of meadows in summer. There were also two trees whose roots were, he surmised, buried deep in the earth below the hardwood flooring. He pointed to one, asking Kenton, “What happens when they reach the ceiling?”

Kenton chuckled. “Then I open it so that they can continue growing upwards. I think in perhaps a hundred years or so they will be through the roof.”

“That will be interesting, if a bit damp when it rains,” Daniel commented.

“Magic, my dear boy. Magic will keep that from happening.” Including the others, Kenton asked if they wanted something to drink before they got down to business. When everyone declined he sat down on a large ottoman, crossing his legs. “May I ask exactly why you are here?”

“To make certain that you actually have Circe’s wand, and if so, that it’s somewhere safe,” Jared told him.

“You honestly expect me to answer that question? I know nothing about any of you, other than Aidan, and while he claims to distrust the court that does not mean he does, or that he couldn’t have some other agenda concerning the wand.”

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 42

The shadows were deep between the streetlights that sat on each end of the street. Large homes formed dark silhouettes, some accented by illuminated, curtained windows. Towering trees and tall hedges, outlined by wrought iron fences, only served to heighten the illusion of small, private worlds housing those who could afford the ornately decorated and balconied mansions.

Daniel and Mor stood in front of one of them, a three-storied creation with ginger breaded eaves and fancy grillwork on the balconies. All the windows were dark but Daniel could see the flicker of candlelight deep in a room on the ground floor.

“Someone’s here,” he said softly. “Whether it’s Kenton is of course the question.”  

She put a finger to her lips as she studied the house with both her eyes and her senses. “It is him, or one with as much power as he has,” she finally whispered.

Nodding, Daniel spoke with Jared. ::Unless you’ve found something to negate it we think we’ve found Kenton::

::Excellent. Now if I can drag Aidan away. He insists he wants to visit the zoo::

Daniel chuckled softy. ::Tell him I’ll take him tomorrow and even buy him cotton candy::

“Cotton candy my ass,” Aidan said indignantly, if quietly, as he and Jared appeared beside Daniel.

Daniel bit back a rejoinder to that, pointing to the house.

Aidan turned to study it before consulting with Mor. “I agree with her, there’s a sorcerer in there. The question becomes can we enter without being fried, boiled or otherwise attacked.”

“We can do the obvious, go up and knock on the door,” Jared pointed out.

“Tell him we’re trick or treating.”

“Gods Daniel, grow up,” Mor grumbled.

He gave her a wide-eyed look. “But being a kid is so much fun, and around all of you that’s exactly how I feel.”

“Just how old do you think I am,” Mor asked, huffing.

Before Daniel could answer Jared clapped a hand over his mouth, saying, “Now is not the time, children.” He started up the walk to the front porch of the house and knocked, not waiting to see if the others had followed.