Thursday, August 17, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 58



That piqued the partners’ interest and Daniel quickly finished making his sandwich and came back to the table, asking his brother as he sat down, “How small?”

“There’s a Chupacabra running loose in the wilderness near where I’ve been living.”

“Hardly a ‘small’ problem,” Jared stated, recalling what he knew about the elusive creatures. They were bipedal, standing somewhere between four to five feet tall. One description compared their bodies to those of an erect dinosaur having small arms and hands with three claws each. Their legs were almost reptilian, again with three claws on each foot and there were spinal quills down their backs which they used for flying. The head was somewhat bird-like with red eyes and an elongated jaw with fangs. “How long has it been there?”

“As far as I can tell,” Norris replied, “it showed up about six months ago. I found the remains of a deer with strange bite marks on its body, primarily the stomach area. Then, a few days later I came upon the body of a puma. There were puncture holes straight into the brain that must have killed it instantly, and then some of its internal organs were removed.”

“Why do you think a Chupacabra is involved?

“Because in both cases what blood that had been left in the bodies hadn’t clotted or coagulated. That told me they weren’t killed by any normal predator. And then,” Norris leaned back, smiling almost gleefully at them, “I actually saw it. Only briefly but long enough that I knew it was a Supe. Once I had, I made a trip into town, to the local library, and did a bit of on-line research.”

Jared nodded, his forehead creasing in a frown. “Is it still in the area?”

“It was two days ago. I found the fresh corpse of another deer. It was the fifth in the last month. It might not have bothered me, but that one was much closer to inhabited areas than any of the rest had been.”

“That’s not good,” Daniel stated as he picked up what was left of his sandwich and headed to the computer in the living room.

Norris watched him leave, cocking an eyebrow in question.

“I suspect he’s letting the Council know and telling them we’ll be handling it.”

“What if they want to send someone else besides the two of you?”

“They won’t,” Jared told him with certainty.

He was correct. Daniel returned almost immediately with the news that they were to leave as soon as possible, with the Council’s blessing.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 57



“About time you woke up,” Norris said, pulling Daniel into a bear hug.

After hugging his brother back just as hard Daniel grumbled, “If someone who shall remain nameless had let me know you were here, I’d have been up much earlier.”

Stepping apart the brothers looked at each other.

“You’ve changed,” Daniel said after a few moments. “You’re…harder, more dangerous feeling.”

“Living rough will do that. You on the other hand, under that hippie look, seem more adult than the last time I saw you. There’s knowledge in your eyes that wasn’t there before.”

“Knowledge?”

“Maybe not the right word, but your eyes say you’ve seen it all, maybe too much, and have learned how to deal with whatever happens by thinking rather than just jumping pell-mell into the fray.”   

“Okay, you’ve been talking with Jared about me haven’t you? He said the same thing just a day ago.”

“About thinking first?”

Daniel chuckled. “No, about the jumping in.”

Norris looked over to where Jared was standing, raising an eyebrow. “He still does that?”

“On occasion, but he’s gotten a lot better about thinking first than he was when we started working together.”

“You two work together too? Doing what?” Norris sat back down at the table, looking at them.

“We’re enforcers for the Council of the Supernaturals,” Jared replied as he joined him while Daniel began fixing himself something to eat.

“Really?” Norris smiled slightly. “How interesting. I was going to check in with the Council while I was here. Now maybe I’ll just by-pass that and tell you instead.”

Daniel turned to look at him. “Tell us what? Are you in some sort of trouble?”

“Not at all, so don’t worry that pretty little head of yours.” Norris ducked back when his brother took a swipe at him before continuing. “Actually I was going to petition the Council for some help with a small problem.”

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 56

“Why did you let me drink so much?” Daniel growled as he sat up and then instantly regretted it.

“You’re a big boy, I figured it was your funeral.”

“A funeral’s about what I’m ready for at the moment. Just let me die and bury me in a silk lined coffin.”

“Gods, Daniel,” Jared said, laughing. “I don’t think things are quite that desperate.”

“No,” Daniel admitted, smiling a bit. “But you gotta admit it was a dramatic thought.” He started to get out of bed and then stopped, sniffing. “Okay, where is he? And why is he?”

“Why is he?” Jared shook his head in amusement.

“Yeah why is there another male in the apartment, and a were to boot?” Daniel scowled at his partner.

“I wanted a matched pair?”

“Jared, I swear as soon as I can move I’m going to put myself out of my misery and kill you.”

“As I’m already dead I don’t think that will do you much good.”

“Gods, a damned comedian at the crack of…” Daniel cast a look at the clock, “three the hell in the afternoon? Damn.”

“Yep. I’ve been up for hours.”

“Riiight, sure you have. Doing what, entertaining your guest?”

Jared sat down on the edge of the bed, drawing Daniel to him with a smile. Before answering he kissed him gently after pushing his hair back off his face. “You need a shower,” he muttered.

“Don’t try to sidetrack me, mister. I want to know who’s here and why.” Pulling away Daniel glowered at him.

“I think you asked that earlier.”

Gritting his teeth Daniel muttered. “And you didn’t answer then any more than you are now. So give.”

Taking pity on him Jared said, “Someone who came looking for you.” When Daniel looked puzzled and a bit worried he added, “Norris.”

“What the hell, why didn’t you say so. Damn it Jared.” Daniel stood up quickly then grabbed the headboard until the room stopped reeling. “Where is he?”

“In the kitchen the last time I saw him. Slow down, breathe, he’s not going anywhere.”

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (5)

Evan spent most of the day, while Vic slept, on the computer and the phone, staying in touch with the people who worked for him. At this point he was glad he could run his business from the house when necessary. He also checked on Vic at regular intervals. So far, the man had done nothing but sleep, it seemed, although at one point Evan noticed the bottle of pills had been moved.
It was late afternoon when Evan heard movement in the living room. Shutting down the computer, he went in and found Vic was sitting up.
"Bathroom?" Vic said succinctly.
"Upstairs."
"Of course it is." Grimacing in pain, Vic made it to his feet. He staggered, his injured knee obviously protesting.
Evan moved in, putting one arm around Vic's waist. "Lean on me and we'll get you up there." They made it to the top of the stairs and to the bathroom. "Need help?" Evan asked when Vic was inside.
Vic chuckled low. "I think I can deal with the basics on my own."
With a nod, Evan closed the door but waited a few feet away, just in case. He heard Vic flush, then the sound of water running. "Feel free to use the towel and washcloth," he called out.
"Am," Vic replied shortly. "I'd give my right arm for a toothbrush," he added.
"There should be a couple of spares in the medicine cabinet."
There was a brief pause before Vic asked, "Do you have overnight guests a lot?"
Evan laughed. "Nope, I just like to be prepared."
A few moments later the door opened. "I feel like a new man," Vic said. "Or at least a cleaner one."
"Cleaner is good. Are you hungry?"
Vic nodded. "Very, but you don't have to feed me. I really should get out of here, now that I'm mobile." His words were negated when he grabbed the doorframe to stay erect as he started out of the bathroom. "Okay, maybe no so mobile yet," he said wryly.
With Evan's help, Vic made it back downstairs and into the kitchen. He watched while Evan got out the ingredients for supper. "You don't have to go all fancy."
"Lemon swai and vegetables is hardly fancy," Evan replied, setting a skillet on a burner then putting butter, lemon juice, and lemon pepper in it to heat. He cut up the fish while waiting for the mixture in the pan to simmer then added the fish to it. Next, he made instant rice and microwaved cauliflower. When everything was ready, he dished it out onto two plates, setting one down in front of Vic. Once he'd gotten silverware and drinks for both of them, milk for Vic despite his wrinkling his nose, and coffee for himself, Evan sat down.
Vic ate slowly and carefully, which didn't really surprise Evan. He suspected his jaw hurt from the pounding it had taken. It wasn't until they were finished and Evan was cleaning up that he said, "I think it's time you told me what happened."
"The less you know, the better."
"I can't help you if I don't know."
"Why would you want to? For all you know, it was something illegal and I just got on the wrong side of someone."
"I'd say the wrong side is a given. Still, for whatever reason, I don't think you were doing anything illegal. Call it instinct or whatever, but the way I see it, you wouldn't be sitting here now if you had. You'd have taken off as soon as you woke up the first time to take more pills." He chuckled. "And taken them with you. So the question still stands, what happened and who beat you up?"

Friday, August 11, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors – 55



Jared studied the man for a long moment, reading the emotions crossing his face. Finally he said, “You’re Norris.”

“That would be me, which means you know Daniel.” Norris looked him over before chuckling softly, almost to himself. “You’re the vampire he told me about, the one he said was a good friend.”

“I am.” Jared stepped back to let Norris enter. “I’m afraid Daniel’s a bit under the weather at the moment,” he said, pointing to the comatose man sprawled out on the sofa.

“The kid never could hold his liquor if it was the good stuff.” Norris crossed the room to kneel down by the sofa, brushing a strand of hair off Daniel’s face. “He looks older, but I guess that’s not surprising. I haven’t seen him in well over fifty years and then it was just briefly.”

“The time he returned home because your mother had died.”

“Yes. That’s when he mentioned you.” Norris looked up at Jared. “Can I assume the two of you are more than just friends, since you seem to be living here too, if the bathrobe is any indication?”

Jared chuckled. “We could be just roommates.”

“Umm hmm, and I could be Sasquatch. Look, I know my brother’s bi and it doesn’t really bother me. Not like it did the rest of the pack. I figure it’s his business and no one else’s.”

“Well thank you for that,” Jared said a bit dryly. “I know he wasn’t expecting you, so may I ask why you’ve suddenly shown up here after all these years.”

Sitting back on his heels Norris considered the question. “Other than to find him? Would you mind if I wait and tell you both at the same time?”

“Not in the least. Are you staying somewhere close to here?”

“Actually,” Norris admitted, “I was hoping…” He shook his head. “I can’t ask that. Is there somewhere you recommend?”

“Yes. We have a spare bedroom. It’s small but you’re welcome to it, for the time being at least.”

“You’re sure? I mean you don’t even know me.”

“You’re Daniel’s brother, that's enough of a recommendation.” Jared smiled. “Besides, I think if you decided to cause any trouble I’d be quite able to handle it. I’m not as young as I look.” 

Norris chuckled. “Which of us are? All right, I accept your offer with thanks.” After standing up he looked down at his brother and asked, “Are you planning on leaving him here?”

“I was going to, yes, but I guess upon further consideration I probably shouldn’t. He’ll wake up grouchy and sore which is not something either of us want to deal with.”

“Been there, done that with him in the past. Allow me.” Norris hauled Daniel up, tossing him over his shoulder. “Which way?”

Jared led him to the bedroom, where Norris unceremoniously dumped Daniel on the bed, laughing when his brother muttered, “How rude,” before falling back to sleep.

After giving Norris a brief tour of the apartment and helping the were settle into the guestroom, Jared returned to his bedroom. Stretching out next to Daniel he wrapped an arm around him so that his head rested on his shoulder and was soon asleep, despite the low, rumbling snores echoing in his ear.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 54



“I will give Kenton one thing, he has a hell of a wine cellar,” Daniel said when he and Jared finally returned home.

Jared shook his head in amusement. “I noticed you had no problems testing everything he offered, including the special brew for were’s. I’m surprised we made it home and didn’t end up in Canada or somewhere even worse.”

“My finely honed senses.” Daniel nodded hard as he fell back onto the sofa, staring blearily at his partner. “Have I ever, ever landed us anywhere we shouldn’t have been?”

Sitting down beside him Jared pulled Daniel’s feet into his lap so he could take his shoes off, saying, “Well there was the time we ended up in…”

“Okay, other than that. I was thinking dark and eerie, so shoot me.”

“If you weren’t three sheets to the wind there are other things I’d rather do to you.” Leaning over, Jared planted a quick kiss on Daniel's lips before beginning to unbutton his shirt.

Daniel started to protest that he was just fine. Then his eyes closed and he began to snore softly.

With an understanding sigh, Jared stripped Daniel’s shirt off and then went to get a blanket to cover him before going to ready himself for bed. He was about to lay down when there was a knock on the front door. “Now what,” he muttered, pulling on his bathrobe as he went to answer.

When he opened the door a tall, blonde man stood there. He looked at Jared as if expecting to be let inside. Standing his ground Jared asked, “How may I help you?”

“Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my brother’s apartment?”

“Actually, this is my apartment, mine and my partner’s. I think you must have the wrong address.”

The man shook his head, taking out a well-worn envelope. He shoved it towards Jared, tapping the return address. “Right apartment.”

Jared had to agree, it was. Then he looked at the address it was sent to. “How long ago did you get this?”

“Umm, ten years ago maybe?” The man frowned. “So right address but wrong person I’m guessing. Sorry man.”

“Not a problem.” Jared hesitated, but he had to know. “Are you family?” Jared was not particularly happy with that idea. Daniel had long since abandoned his family and his pack, unwilling to bow down to its despotic alpha. The only one he had ever tried to stay in touch with was an older brother who had quite literally vanished into the wilderness several years ago. Probably, now that he thought about it, about the time this man had gotten the letter. 

The man growled, not answering Jared’s question as he tried to peer into the apartment. Then he sighed, running one hand through his hair. “I’m looking for my brother. I was hoping he still lived here or that someone would know where he’d gone to.”

Monday, August 7, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 53



Slowly the fighters lowered their swords. Daniel, somewhat reluctantly, unclamped his jaws from the arm of the elf that had started the battle, and Jared moved to join his partner, resting his hand on the jaguar’s head.

“What do you mean it’s not necessary?” the battle elf who seemed to be in command asked.

Kenton smiled tightly. “I think that we are allies fighting allies.” When Aidan frowned at his words Kenton explained. “My friends are not as you supposed from the court or connected with it. They truly are here as my protectors. I quite honestly believed the stories that you were are lackey of the court, UrĂºvion. As a result I was very certain you would return with your friends in an attempt to force me to retrieve the wand from its hiding place.”

Aidan nodded. “And I was quite sure that you were being forced somehow to set a trap for me, using the wand as bait, so that I could be captured and returned to our world.” He paused, studying Kenton. “What made you change your mind about me?”

Kenton chuckled. “You forgot to ward yourself against a truth spell, something I suspect never occurred to you would be used. When you said you had no interest in obtaining the wand, I heard the sincerity in your voice and cast the spell, finding that what you said was not a lie.”

“Oops,” Mor said, laughing. “And here I was beginning to think you were above making mistakes Aidan.”

Aidan ran a hand through his hair before smiling slightly. “I’m only…well not human, but still that saying holds true. Even I can slip up sometimes. Rarely, but sometimes.”

Daniel returned to his human form and turned to the elf whose arm he had tried to maul. He asked in concern, “Do you need healing?”

The elf shook his head. “Thank you but no. I’m going to be hurting for a while, but my armor protected me from more than some very bad bruising.”

Aidan reversed his own armoring spell before asking, “Who are these battle elves if not lackeys of the court, as you so mockingly once called me?”

One of them replied before Kenton could. “Expatriates like you and Kenton. We come from an enclave far across the country from here. I’ve known him since he actually did work for the court. We are of a like mind that anyone connected with it cannot be trusted not to try to destroy this world given half a chance. The wand would be just what they want and need.”

Aidan nodded in agreement. “You are quite certain that you’ve hidden it well?” he asked Kenton. “Better than you did before.”

“Absolutely. I took a page from Mor’s book and sent it off to who knows where. Only, unlike her, I did not put a time limit on when it will return.”

“So it’s lost forever,” Mor said mournfully.

“No my dear, not forever. If and when it’s needed it will return.”

“To you?” she asked.

“Or my successor, should anything happen to me. And before you ask, I have not decided who that will be. I hope to live a good long time still, until the end of my life span. When and only when that nears will I make a decision.”

“You do realize if things had gone differently today you might be dead now,” Jared pointed out. “Then the wand would be forever lost.”

“And would that truly be such a bad thing?”

“No,” Jared admitted, “I don’t suppose it would be.”

Mor shook her head in frustrated disagreement but remained silent.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (4)



Evan went back to the kitchen to get Vic's sweatshirt. He helped him put it on and then to stretch out on the sofa, saying as he did, "I'd offer you the use of my spare bedroom but I don't think making you walk upstairs is a good idea at the moment."
"The way I'm feeling, you'd have to carry me," Vic admitted. "I don't suppose you have any painkillers handy."
"Aspirin or Tylenol-3, but I'm hesitant to give you the Tylenol in case there's more head trauma than just the obvious bruising."
Vic cocked an eyebrow. "The medic in you speaking?"
"Yep."
"I'll take my chances." Vic grimaced as he tried to get comfortable, which didn't seem to be possible at the moment.
"I'll be right back."
Vic watched Evan as he walked out of view, one part of his mind wondering what the attractive blond man looked like in something less baggy than a pair of sweatpants. I shouldn't be going there—but it does take my mind off of everything else, at least for a second.
Evan returned with a bottle of pills and a glass of water. "You need to sit up again," he said. "I'm afraid I don't have a flexible straw handy."
"I can take them dry." Which Vic did, once Evan handed him two pills. While he waited for them to kick in, he asked, "Why are you doing this?"
"I'm a sucker for anyone that's been hurt?"
"Is that why you were a medic? Are you still?"
"I was an EMT before I joined the Army. Now"—he shrugged—"no, I'm not. I had enough of it to last a lifetime."
The look on Evan's face said 'more than enough' but Vic wasn't going to pry into that. "So what do you do now, if I'm not being too nosy?"
"I own a security company."
"You're a PI?" Vic asked in surprise. What are the odds I'd run into another one in this situation? A million-to-one?
"No. My company installs and maintains security systems."
"Then I'm safe here."
Evan grimaced. "You will be in a minute. With all that's happened I forgot to rearm the system."  
When Evan returned, Vic said drowsily, "I think the meds are kicking in."
"Good. The bottle's here"—he pointed to the coffee table—"if you wake up and need more. Just go easy on them."
"I know."
"Somehow I figured you might. I've got the feeling this isn't the first time you've run into trouble."
"Not… even…" Vic murmured before his eyes closed and he fell into a fitful sleep.

* * * *

"Don't tell me he's one of the bad guys, like Dave was," Dom mind spoke to Paddy as soon as they arrived in Evan's living room, remaining invisible to both men.
"Somehow I doubt it. From what little I heard his attackers saying, they wanted to know how much he knew, although they didn't say about what."
"Still doesn't mean he's not a crook," Dom pointed out.
"True. I guess we'll find out when Evan quizzes him when he wakes up, because you know he will."
"Unless he's an idiot, he will," Dom agreed as they watched Evan go upstairs and return a minute later with a blanket that he spread over Vic's sleeping form.
"Given what he said he does, I rather doubt that he is. Once he asks then we'll all have a better idea of what we're dealing with."
Dom grinned maliciously. "At least I got the one who we know is, excuse the expression, on the side of the angels."
Paddy just shook his head, instead of replying and feeding into Dom's superiority complex. I have the feeling Vic is too, but I'm not saying anything until I know for sure. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

It's release day for 'His Secret Admirer'!

His Secret Admirer

When the first note shows up at the restaurant where he works -- when he isn't designing costumes for a local theater -- Jim Foster laughs it off. When the notes keep coming, he doesn't find the fact that he might have a secret admirer quite so amusing.

Alan North, a lonely, bookish customer at the restaurant, is too shy to even think of talking to Jim -- as much as he wants to.

Then the killings begin. Two of Jim's friends are murdered in what appear to be muggings. However, the detective in charge of the cases believes they're more than that, and that Jim is either the killer ... or being stalked by one.

When Jim and Alan finally connect, can they help find and stop the stalker, or will Alan end up dead before their budding relationship can become more than friendship?

EXCERPT:
    Jim was certain whoever his secret admirer was had given up when there wasn't an envelope tacked to the bulletin board the following morning, when he arrived at Bannock's. He sighed in relief and got to work. The restaurant was busier than usual, for whatever reason. That was saying something since there were always dozens of people waiting -- inside, and out on the sidewalk -- for Logan, the host on the weekends, to tell them their table was ready. By the time Jim's shift ended at two, he was more than ready to go home and collapse.

    Which he did, settling on the sofa, with a cup of coffee, and Callie curled in his lap, while he watched some mindless sports show on TV. He was half asleep when the news came on. He snapped awake moments later when he heard Vic's name. The reporter was apparently recapping an earlier news story about the body of a man that had been discovered in the parking lot behind an apartment building, beaten to death. "The victim has now been positively identified as Victor Howe who lived in the apartment building where the body was discovered."

    For a second, Jim hoped it was another Victor Howe. After all, it's a fairly common name. His hopes were dashed when the Vic's photo came up behind the reporter.

    "It can't be. Why? A mugging gone wrong?"

    According to the reporter, the police were considering that explanation but wouldn't confirm it until they had finished the investigation.

    "It happened after I left the club last night," Jim said, getting a cocked head from Callie, who was sitting on the floor at his feet at that point. "Yeah, an obvious statement," he muttered as he got up. "I wonder if the police know he was there."

    Probably, he figured. But he wanted to find out for certain. After changing out of his work clothes, he grabbed his keys and took off.

    "You heard," Steve said, coming down to where Jim had managed to squeeze in at the end of the bar.

    "Looks like everyone else has, too," Jim replied sourly. On his way across the room, he'd overheard several guys talking about Vic's murder.

    "It, umm, has increased our normal Saturday night business ... unfortunately." Steve shook his head in disgust.

    "Have the cops been here?" Jim asked.

    "Oh, yeah. From what one of them said, someone tipped them off that Vic was here last night, so they descended in force around noon. They told the boss to get anyone who'd worked last night down here so they could talk to us."

    Jim almost smiled. "Waking you from your beauty sleep."

    "Or something like that," Steve agreed, with a ghost of a smile of his own. "Hang on, I'll be right back. You want a beer?"

    Jim nodded, then watched as Steve took care of several customers who were clamoring for drinks -- and gossiping about Vic's murder. Steve filled their orders, ignoring their questions, then returned, handing Jim his beer.

    "It's been like this since we opened," Steve grumbled, then muttered, "Oh, shit."

    "What?"

    "They've returned. Or at least one of them has," Steve replied, nodding to a man in his late twenties, wearing a suit and tie, who was coming toward them. "Unless I miss my guess, he's looking for you, which is my fault. I told him you were the last person to talk to Vic, because he left right after you did. I didn't tell him where you live, because I don't know."

    "Thanks," Jim said, rolling his eyes as he took a long pull on his beer.

    "Mr. Ward," the man said to Steve. "Had Mr. Foster come in yet, tonight?"

    "I'm Jim Foster," Jim said.

    "Detective Baines," the man replied. "I'd like to have a few words with you, if you don't mind."

    "About Vic, I presume. All right, but ..." Jim gestured to the crowded bar -- and room. "Maybe somewhere else?"

    "I was going to suggest that. We can talk in my car."

    With a nod, Jim followed him outside, then down to an unmarked police car parked half a block away.

    When they were seated, Detective Baines said, "According to witnesses, you were the last man to speak to Mr. Howe before he left the club last night."

    "I doubt that, knowing Vic, but I was probably the last guy with him, before that. We danced, then had another drink together afterward."

    "You were friends?" The detective's tone of voice implied he meant more by that than his words said.

    "Yes. Just friends. We have been for a while. And that was it. There was no sex involved," Jim told him bluntly.
 

Smoke and Mirrors - 52



“Ah, wait,” Aidan said after a moments thought. “I take that back. Of course Kenton has a connection to the court. He admitted to having spies there.”

“And you don’t?” the battle elf asked.

“Truthfully, no. I have cut any and all ties with our world, despite the apparent rumors to the contrary.” He stepped back a pace, placing himself beside Kenton, the tip of his sword pressed against the elf’s throat. “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t kill him now and save us all the trouble of doing so later.”

Daniel immediately shifted while Jared and Mor spread out, each of them facing one of the doors into the room.

“Because if you do, you won’t find Circe’s wand,” Kenton said, his voice strong despite the position he was in.

“Quite honestly, I don’t give a damn about the wand,” Aidan retorted. “It can stay wherever you hid it until the proverbial Hell freezes over. It would be best for all concerned if it did actually.”

The battle elf looked at him in surprise. “You’re serious?”

“Deadly serious. Better it stays hidden than that anyone in the court gets their hands on it.” Aidan pulled his sword away from Kenton but remained on high alert.

“He lies,” a voice said from the hallway and then the second of the three elves appeared. He was clad in the same type of armor as his compatriot and wielded two large swords, one of which he swung at Aidan.

::Finally, some action:: Daniel said as he leapt toward the elf, fastening his jaws on the arm swinging the sword.

::And of course you’re the one who jumps into the fray first:: Jared replied acerbically as he waited for the third elf to put in an appearance.

::Well duh:: Daniel clamped down harder on the elf’s arm, twisting to avoid the sword of the first elf as it came slamming down where he’d been only seconds earlier.

The door from the study burst open and the third elf entered the room, only to be met by a flashing stream of fire as Jared used one of his powers to keep the elf away from the fighting.

Aidan brought his sword up, forcing the first elf to retreat slightly before he did any damage to Daniel. Meanwhile Mor circled the room, weaving a spell around Kenton to keep him in place. Kenton fought it off even as he shouted, the aura of command strong in his voice, “Enough!”

For a moment more, the fighting continued as the one elf tried to use his second sword on Daniel and the third elf adroitly evaded a second fire stream while moving in on Jared.

Once more Kenton ordered, “Enough!” Then more quietly he added. “This is not necessary. Stand off, all of you.”

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 51

“Welcome,” Kenton said as he opened the door and stepped aside.

Aidan remained where he was standing. “Am I, truly?”

Kenton arched an eyebrow. “A good question I suppose. Why would I welcome into my home someone who wishes to betray me?”

“I could ask the same question. Why would I want to enter when you are entertaining members of the court?”

“And yet you’re here.”

“And you welcomed me.”

“Alright,” Mor said, stepping up to stand beside Aidan. “Enough with the games. Men, I swear. Can we just go inside and get this over with. I’m certain Kenton’s ‘friends’ have better things to do than stand around waiting for the fighting to begin. The gods know I do.” She pushed her way past the two elves and strode majestically into the living room.

“Whoa,” Daniel muttered, a grin quirking his mouth up. “And you lived with that for all those years?” He patted Jared’s shoulder in commiseration.

“And survived,” Jared replied with a wry chuckle. “So, shall we follow?”

The partners entered the house, where they stood, waiting for Aidan and Kenton to end their face-off. Taking the hint Aidan walked over to join them while keeping his gaze locked on Kenton.

Mor stepped to the living room doorway, saying tartly, “All of you, get in here now. There’s a stupid elf in here who seems rather insistent on meeting Aidan face to face.”

“Does he now?” Aidan broke ranks with the others to join her. “I see why,” he said softly as he murmured a quick spell that resulted in his being covered with fine golden armor. A long, sharp sword appeared in his hands seconds later.

The elf in question was already clad in dark silver armor, his hand resting on the hilt of his sword. “I’m not here to fight UrĂºvion.”

“Did you expect me to go with you willingly?”

“Actually I’m here to keep Kenton safe from your machinations,” the elf replied.

“It takes three of you to do that?”

The elf chuckled, glancing over at Jared as he and Daniel entered the room with Kenton. “I presume you’re the one who did reconnaissance, vampire.”

Jared bowed mockingly to the elf. “I am. I counted three of you, did I miss anyone?”

“Unfortunately, no. I shall have to remember next time to make certain at least one, if not all of us, are visually invisible as well as having our presences magically shielded from those probing from outside.” He returned his gaze to Aidan. “And you know that I’m speaking the truth as to how many of us are here.”

Aidan smiled in acknowledgement. “I do. What I want to know is why Kenton would have called on the court to send him protection when he claims to have had no contact with them.”

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 50



“Does anyone sense anything?” Jared asked sotto voce as the quartet stood across the street from Kenton’s place.

Aidan stared at the house long and hard before shaking his head. Mor was a bit more hesitant, but finally agreed that she didn’t think anyone was there other than Kenton.

“However,” she did say, “he’s a strong mage who can mask their presence if they’re expecting trouble, just as Aidan and I are doing.”

“Not a happy thought,” Daniel muttered under his breath. “I really prefer to know what I’m facing before I go in.”

Jared nodded. “Then I’ll find out.” He turned into a fine mist, drifting towards one of the windows. Moments later he was inside.

“I hate when he does that,” Daniel grumbled. “It’s just creepy.”

Mor chuckled softly. “More than you’re turning into a jungle cat?”

“I…well yeah, you have a point I guess.” He kept his eyes locked on the house, starting to pace as the minutes passed and Jared didn’t return.

“Give him time, it’s a large place,” Aidan murmured.

Daniel shot him a quick look and was about to retort when Jared reformed at his side.

“Three others in there besides Kenton, elves, well-armed. I’m not certain if they know we’re here or are just prepared in case we show up.”

“Any sense if they’re mages as well as fighters,” Aidan asked.

Jared shook his head. “If they are then they’re shielding that, as well as their physical presence. Otherwise it’s Kenton doing that.”

“As Mor said, he’s strong enough to. Where are they?”

“One is in the living room with Kenton, one in a study next door, and one across the hallway. No one upstairs.”

“At least it’s even odds.” Aidan said. “All right, shall we go pay him a visit and see what happens?”