Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Chapter Five Hundred and Ninety-one : Frustration


Thursday midday — 12:15 p.m.

“I’m sorry,” Pierre said. “Would you mind repeating what you said?”

“You know that the fairies are meeting?” Heather asked.

They’d just ordered lunch at a quiet lunchroom not far from Lockheed Martin, where Pierre worked.

“To avoid outright war,” Pierre said. “The war has been brewing for decades.”

“They are attempting to put together a kind of United Nations of Fairies,” Heather said. “Three of the fairy tribes, including the lost tribes, are interested. One tribe …”

“Áthas,” Pierre said under his breath.

Heather nodded.

“They are not interested,” Heather said. “They’ve attempted to attack members of our family.”

“Guy,” Pierre said with a gasp. He moved to stand up. “He’s alone, out of town …”

“He’s well protected,” Jill said with a knowing nod.

“Marigold,” Pierre said.

Heather nodded.

“They’ve come for all of you?” Pierre asked.

Heather nodded.

“They came for my daughter and her friend at school,” Jill said.

Pierre sat back in his chair. He blinked at them.

“This is about the Sword of Truth,” Pierre said.

“They tried to take it outright,” Jill said.

“And take Jill’s daughter, Katy,” Heather said.

“For the fairy war,” Pierre said.

Heather and Jill fell silent. They looked at Pierre while he seemed to be thinking through something. He opened his mouth and then scowled at them.

“They cannot take the sword,” Pierre said. “Surely, they know that.”

“It doesn’t seem that way,” Heather said.

“They’ve taken my daughter and her friend,” Jill said.

Pierre looked up at Jill. His piercing eyes focused entirely on her face. She swallowed hard.

“They are trying to take the Sword of Truth by getting it before it attaches to Paddie,” Heather said, taking over from Jill.

Pierre shook his head.

“They will be unsuccessful,” Pierre said.

“Everyone says that,” Jill spit out. “They are holding my daughter and Paddie in a time loop. If they can’t get the sword …”

Jill sucked in a breath to keep from panicking. She hadn’t been aware of how terrified she felt. She closed her mouth and glanced at Heather. She needed to calm down. Heather gave her a quick nod.

“Katy told Jill that she has been given the Vanquisher,” Heather said.

“The what?” Pierre’s eyes were instantly guarded. “What is a Vanquisher?”

“A sword or possibly a knife,” Heather said.

Pierre looked up quickly. He blinked at Heather.

“Nelson told us that you knew about the sword,” Heather said.

“It was a knife,” Pierre said. “Companion to the Sword of Truth. My emphasis is on ‘was.’ The knife was destroyed.”

“Everyone says that too!” Jill said, her terror for her daughter transmuting to anger. Jill shook her head. “This isn’t helping.”

Pierre watched Jill cautiously.

“Have you spoken with your father?” Pierre asked.

“My father has made a promise to me and my mother that he would not kill Áthas’s entire tribe,” Jill said angrily. “If he knows that they’ve taken Katy …”

Pierre gave a quick nod. For a long moment, the man simply looked at Jill and Heather.

“Nelson told us that you would tell us everything we wanted to know,” Heather said. “You’ve told us nothing.”

Pierre’s eyes flicked to Heather. As if it had a mind of his own, his head started moving up and down in a slow nod. The waiter arrived to bring their meals. The staff filled their water glasses and brought extra napkins. They settled in to eating.

Pierre ate a few bites of his pasta and set his fork down.

“I apologize,” Pierre said. “I have mishandled this entire thing. My son and I are arguing over something and I made the assumption that you were here to argue his point.”

“I don’t need to argue his point,” Heather said. “You know as well as I do that the order is done. You will be the last head of the Templars. You will talk and talk and argue and resist, but eventually, you will give the swords to museums. The government of France will take back their land and it will be over.”

Pierre stared at Heather for a long moment without blinking.

“Did he tell you this?” Pierre asked.

“He didn’t have to tell me this,” Heather said. “You forget yourself.”

Heather opened her hand and a ball of beautiful golden light came from her hand. Pierre sat back in his chair.

“I meant no offense, Hedone,” Pierre said.

“None taken,” Heather closed her hand. “You know that I am telling you the truth.”

Pierre sighed and went back to eating his pasta. He gave a quick shake of his head.

“I do not,” Pierre said.

“Yes, you do,” Heather said.

Pierre leaned forward to Heather.

“The Polish salt mine shows how many objects are still out there in the world waiting to be discovered,” Pierre said in a loud whisper.

He shook his head and leaned back.

“So your son should give up his life to chase after these missing things?” Heather asked.

Pierre looked at Heather and shook his head.

“Like you did?” Heather asked.

Pierre scowled at Heather.

“What I don’t understand,” Jill said, breaking into the conversation. She swallowed her bite of salad. “What I don’t understand is if there are all of these important objects that need to be found, if Nelson is supposed to give up his life to do the very thing you refused to do, then why are you so dismissive of my daughter finding the Vanquisher?”

Pierre’s head jerked to look at Jill.

“You don’t know what you’re asking,” Pierre said.

“Then tell me,” Jill said.

“Ask you father,” Pierre said.

He stood up, threw his napkin over his plate, and left the restaurant. Jill glanced at Heather.

“That went well,” Heather said.

In spite of herself, Jill laughed. Heather squinted and glanced after where Pierre had gone.

“We need to get a look at what he brought home from Poland,” Heather said.

“You think that’s why he’s being an ass?” Jill asked.

“Well, he is French,” Heather said.

Jill chuckled.

“But yes,” Heather said. “I think he’s been in touch with something that’s made him …”

Jill nodded.

“We need to speak with your father,” Heather said.

“I know,” Jill said. Jill looked at Heather and spoke to her fear, “Do you think they are okay?”

“Katy and Paddie?” Heather asked.

Jill nodded.

“They are okay,” Heather said. “I’m sure of it.”

Jill gave her friend a long look before smiling.

“I hope so,” Jill said softly.

Heather put her arm around Jill.


Thursday midday — 12:15 p.m.

Jacob was running down a mountain path. His yellow Labrador, Sarah, was off leash and running a foot or so ahead of him. The hill was steep and rocky so they weren’t going very fast. He was practicing sucking in his breath so that he could increase his oxygen uptake.

The entire practice made him feel like a fish out of water.

Ahead of him, they reached the boulder field where large granite boulders caused the trail to zip zag. Jacob was sucking in air when he reached the first boulder.

He thought something flashed across the boulder. He shook his head. It must have been some factor of this ridiculous breathing exercise.

He looked ahead to the next boulder. There was something … some thing? It was …

He stopped short in front of the boulder.

That was Katy and her friend, Paddie.

Sarah circle back to where he’d stopped. She barked at the image.

Jacob touched his ear.

“I can’t hear,” Jacob said, evenly.

“Do you think we’ll go home again?” Paddie asked.

His voice blasted as if he was using a megaphone.

“Too loud,” Jacob said to whatever was making this happen.

“Do you think we’ll go home again?” Paddie asked.

“Ever?” Katy asked.

Paddie thought for a moment and nodded.

“I think that we’re on the Isle of Man,” Katy said. “Where Fin lives. Auntie Tanesha will tell Fin and they will come to rescue us.”

“Even though we’re back in time?” Paddie asked.

Katy had no idea if they would be found so she didn’t say anything. The children held onto each other and waited for whatever was next.

“Fuck,” Jacob said under his breath.

He leaned forward to see if he could get a clue as to where the children might be located. He didn’t recognize the small space.

“Where is this?” Jacob said.

A map appeared on the back of the rock with an image of the Isle of Man. A red dot appeared near the West coast of the island nearly at the top of the island.

“Maughold,” Jacob said with a nod. “When?”

The image shifted to Jacob and Valerie running through the forest with Sam and Delphie. Brigid and Gilfand were flying ahead of them.

Jacob sighed. He shook his head.

He did not want to go on another weird and wild adventure especially where fairies were involved. He’d promised Jill that he would rest. He’d promised Jill that he wouldn’t do this kind of crap anymore.

“Getting your body burned up should be enough,” Jill said.

And she was right.

“But this is Katy,” Jacob said out loud.

He pointed to the rock.

“Who is sending me this information?” Jacob asked.

A “V” appeared on the rock but nothing else.

“Okay, V,” Jacob said. “What are you suggesting?”

The rock showed him nothing more. He stood for more than a minute hoping the rock would answer him. He couldn’t help anyone out here in the middle of a boulder field. He shook his head and started running back toward the cabin.

In a breath, he was running through the forest. Surprised, he stopped running and looked around. He hadn’t even tried to do that by himself since he’d been on the Isle of Man. Ahead of him, he saw himself, Valerie, Sam, and Delphie running away from him.

But where was Sarah?

He returned to the mountainside to find Sarah waiting for him. He put his arms around the dog and transported them both to the Isle of Man.

“Fine,” Jacob said to no one. He looked down at Sarah and rubbed her ears. “Come on girl, let’s get our Katy.”

Sarah barked and started to run toward the chapel that Maughold had cared for.


Thursday afternoon — 3:45 p.m.

“Are you sure you don’t mind watching them?” Jill asked as she entered her mother’s condominium.

The boys ran to greet their grandmother.

“It’s my pleasure,” Anjelika said. She smiled. “I never get enough time with my boys.”

Jill smiled. Her sons loved their grandmother. Anjelika didn’t mind their weird psychokinetic tricks. She thought that they were “funny.”Her father egged the boys on. They had a great time. The boys would be exhausted when she came to pick them up.

“Where’s Dad?” Jill asked.

“He’s meeting with some people from Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife,” Anjelika said. She nodded down the hall. “In the living room. I was just fixing tea.”

“He decided to go through with it?” Jill asked.

Anjelika nodded.

“Candy’s been bugging him about it,” Anjelika said. “If he gives his lands and houses to National Parks, they will protect the wildlife. We’re going to donate money to help.”

“It makes sense,” Jill said. “I thought he was all, ‘I am Lord and Master over that land.’”

“He was,” Anjelika said with a smile to Jill’s imitation.

“What happened?” Jill asked.

“I realized that I was being an ass,” Perses said.

He leaned down to kiss Jill’s cheek and picked up Jill’s twin, Bladen.

“Are we having a play date?” Perses asked.

“I asked mom if she could watch the boys for a while,” Jill said.

“Why would that be?” Perses asked.

Jill glared at her father. He clearly knew that something was going on. He wanted Jill to tell him and ask for his help.

“You know about the United Tribes of Fairy?” Jill asked.

“Good name,” Anjelika said. “Is it new?”

“Just what they have so far,” Jill said.

“I do happen to know about that,” Perses said.

“The fairies have locked Katy and Paddie in some kind of a time loop,” Jill said evenly, gauging his response to each of her words. “The fairies are trying to get the Sword of Truth.”

Perses grunted and nodded.

“Katy has picked up something called the ‘Vanquisher,’” Jill said.

Perses’s eyebrows went up. His lips slightly curved. His eyes twinkled with light.

“Did she now,” Perses said.

“You’re not going to say that it was destroyed?” Jill asked.

Perses shook his head.

“Is this our tray?” Perses nodded to the tray with a tea pot, cups, and little cakes on a fine china plate.

Anjelika nodded. He turned to leave.

“No,” Jill said, instantly furious.

Perses stopped walking.

“You will not just walk out. This is my daughter, Katy!Katy! Is this your sword? Will it kill her? What is it?” Jill said. “You must tell me!”

The very air sparked with electricity. Perses whipped around to look at his daughter.

“Do not use that voice on me,” Perses said.

“Then tell me,” Jill’s voice dropped to a whisper.

“It is a knife,” Perses said. “I had it made a very long time ago. It is the companion to the Sword of Truth. The only time they’ve been separated has been the years Paddie had the Sword of Truth.”

“Everyone is talking like it’s the end of the world!” Jill said. “Everyone has said it was destroyed!”

“No,” Perses said. “I was asked to destroy the knife. Instead, I left the knife where my granddaughter would find it when she needed it. This was at least a hundred years before your Katy was born.”

“How did you know?” Jill asked.

“What’s the point of knowing an Oracle if you don’t listen to what they say?” Perses asked.

He gave Jill a nod and was down the hallway before she could respond. Jill gave a frustrated groan.

“I hate it when he does that too,” Anjelika said. “Don’t worry about this sword business. There’s no one in this world that your father loves more than Katy.”

Anjelika gave Jill another kiss and got her out the door. Jill sat in her car for a few minutes imaging fantastic scenarios where she demanded that her father tell her everything. She shook her head. She would never cause a scene, and he would never tell her.

She started the vehicle and turned on the radio.

“The Vanquisher will draw to Katy whatever she needs,” her father’s voice came from the car speakers. “It was originally called the ‘Nanny.’ When Katy needs me or you or her father or anyone, they will know it and come. She is safe.”

“But she doesn’t know that!” Jill said “I know she’s scared because I can feel it.”

Nothing else came from the speakers. Shaking her head, Jill pulled out of their driveway and drove to see Julie Hargreaves.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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