Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.


Chapter Five Hundred and Ninety-three: Coming clean

CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED AND NINETY-THREE

Thursday night — 9:15 p.m.

Dillon, Colorado

“But you’re saying that they didn’t get Paddie’s shiny sword,” Julie Hargreaves said.

“They did not,” Jacob said.

“Does that mean that they are coming for Paddie and Katy again?” Julie asked.

Her eyes flicked to around the room to look at each person in the room. Julie and Colin Hargreaves had come up to Dillon as soon as they knew that Paddie was home.

“It’s ridiculous,” Colin Hargreaves said. “Unacceptable.”

“Can we just give them the sword?” Julie asked.

Her husband’s head jerked to look at her.

“I mean, it would destroy Paddie, but if they want the stupid sword, why not just give it to them?” Julie asked.

“Unfortunately, that’s not possible,” Jill said.

“Why?” Colin asked. “Give me one good reason that we can’t just give these witches this child’s sword and…”

Reading Jill and Jacob’s faces, Colin stopped talking.

“What?” Colin asked. “Just tell us.”

To stall for time, Jill got up to refill everyone’s glasses. Jacob waited until Jill returned. He gave her a soft smile and she gave him a nod.

“You know that there are objects in this world that have power of their own,” Jacob said.

“No,” Colin said with a shake of his head. “I know that there are fairy tales that we tell children…”

“You’re in the middle of a fairy tale,” Jill said softly.

“What does that mean?” Julie asked.

“You should know that this is something that was thrust upon us,” Jacob said. “It’s not something we chose or…”

“When I was having the twins a variety of weird things happened,” Jill said. “Jacob was right in the middle of it.”

“When Paddie and Katy disappeared before?” Julie asked. “The time he said they were held captive by the man with white eyes.”

“That was just a dream,” Colin said. “He heard about this place from his uncle and…”

Jacob shook his head.

“And what does that mean?” Colin asked mimicking Jacob’s shake of his head.

No one said anything for a long moment.

“I looked up that guy,” Julie said softly. “Maughold.”

Colin turned to look at Julie.

“You were on a trip, and Paddie was so afraid,” Julie said.

Jacob and Jill nodded.

“He was a real person, Col, not a dream,” Julie said. “Maughold was brutally tortured by Patrick of Ireland and then cast out into the Irish Sea in a small boat without an oar. He opened a church on the Isle of Man. Paddie and I watched a documentary on the man and the place. There is an oil painting of Maughold. Paddie said that the man with white eyes looked just like this painting.”

Julie snuck a look at Colin.

“You had so many other things on your mind that Paddie and I decided not to bother you with it,” Julie said. “Max made the map and Jimmy went to take video. They had it done before you got home.”

Julie sighed.

“You need to believe that we are safe when you aren’t with us,” Julie said. She sighed. Nodding to Jacob, she said, “Can you tell us more about this sword?”

Julie put her hand over Colin’s.

“The best way to show you about the sword is to get the children up,” Jill said.

“Any why is that?” Colin asked.

“The sword is tied into Paddie’s DNA,” Jill said gently.

“What?” Colin jumped to his feet. “You did this without even bothering to consult us?”

Jill touched Colin’s hand.

“It sounds crazy but it was done by the sword itself,” Jill said.

“You’re right, it sounds crazy,” Colin said.

Jill sighed.

“I’m not sure why we never talked about it with you,” Jill said. “Honestly, it was more of an oversight than an intentional slight. We just didn’t talk about it with you. We had the twins and…”

“We are talking about it now,” Jacob said. “Let me get the children.”

“I’ll get them,” Jill said.

Julie got up when Jill did. The men sat in uncomfortable silence as the women went into the small bedroom and woke up Paddie and Katy. It took a few minutes to get them awake. They brought the children into the living area.

“Daddy!” Paddie said.

The boy ran to his father. Colin lifted the child onto his lap, and Paddie snuggled in. Katy hung on Jill’s neck. Jacob stood to help Jill sit down with Katy. When they were settled again, Jacob looked at Paddie.

“Paddie,” Jacob said. “Your parents would like to see your sword.”

Paddie looked at Jacob and then gave his parents a sly looked. He held up the wooden sword that hid the Sword of Truth.

“The actual sword,” Jacob said.

Paddie hopped off his father’s lap. He pulled the adult sized sword from what looked like a wooden scabbard.

Julie gasped and covered her mouth with her hands. Colin’s mouth fell open and then he looked angry.

“Paddie put that down right now,” Colin said. He stood up. “I don’t know what you think you’re doing, but my son is not yet six years old. That’s…”

Colin reached for the blade. Sparks flew off the sword. Colin flew across the room. He hit a wall with a thud. Jill’s twins and Paddie’s younger brother Conner began to wail in surprise. Dazed, Colin slid along the wall until his rear hit the floor.

No one said anything for a moment. Paddie ran over to his father. The child crouched down.

“Daddy, you can’t touch the sword!” Paddie said.

Paddie gave his father a broad smile and helped his father to his feet.

“I’ll go,” Jill said gesturing to the toddlers crying in the other room.

“Let’s start over,” Jacob said. “You know that there are objects in this world that hold power.”

Jacob nodded to where Colin was standing. Colin lifted his shoulders in a shrug.

“This is the Sword of Truth, Daddy!” Paddie said. He gave his father a big smile. “I am her keeper and all of my children and their children and forever will be too.”

Julie put her hand over her heart, and Colin simply gave his son an assessing look.

“This is what we know,” Jill said. “The Sword of Truth is old — really old. No one is sure who created the sword or who forged it. It’s endued with the capacity to clear all magic, lies, and, for lack of a better way to say it, anything untruthful.

“It seems to have been created by the blacksmiths who became the weapons masters for the Templars. We’ve learned that from Nelson and his father, Pierre. They are Templars.”

“Like from Jerusalem?” Colin said. “1500s? French? Crusades?”

Jacob nodded.

“Why am I unable to touch it?” Colin asked.

“The sword chose Paddie,” Katy said at the same time Paddie said, “The man with the white eyes gave it to me.”

“It’s an unbreakable bond,” Jacob said. “There are only a handful of beings who can touch it and we are not them.”

“This is ridiculous!” Colin said. His eyes flicked to Julie but she seemed to stunned to respond. “Paddie is a child. He is carrying around a lethal weapon.”

“I’ve never, not even one time, cut myself, Daddy,” Paddie said.

“Or hurt anyone else,” Katy said.

“Not ever,” Paddie said.

“He’s been carrying it for years, Colin,” Julie said. “This is ‘shiny sword’?”

Colin looked at his wife and then took in the wooden sword at Paddie’s side.

“This one is just a trick,” Paddie said. “To hide it.”

“Magic,” Colin said in a soft voice.

“I have to carry it all the time,” Paddie said. “It’s very valuable and important.”

As if Colin was a little dim, Paddie and Katy gave Colin a slow nod. He scowled at them. He opened his mouth, and then closed it. Shaking his head, he opened his mouth again. No words came out.

“Why does my son have a lethal weapons and your daughter does not?” Colin asked a little too aggressively.

“First, you should know that we did not give Paddie the sword,” Jacob said. “We had nothing to do with it. He came home from the Isle of Man with it.”

“They didn’t know for a long time,” Katy said.

Having settled the toddlers, Jill rejoined them at the table.

“We didn’t tell anybody because the man with the white eyes told us it was a secret,” Paddie said.

Katy nodded.

“How did you find out?” Colin asked.

“It’s kind of a long story involving things that has to do with someone else’s family mess,” Jacob said. “They’ve asked us not to speak about it.”

Scowling at the information, Colin nodded that he understood what Jacob meant.

“I have a shiny sword too!” Katy said hoping to ease the tension.

Katy opened her hand and the Vanquisher appeared with the grip in her palm. The adults sucked in a breath at the sight of the sword appearing out of nowhere.

“We learned about this sword while they were gone,” Jill said. “Katy was able to send me a message asking about it.”

“And?” Colin asked.

“It’s a companion to the Sword of Truth,” Jill said. “Created in the time of the Titans.”

“Titans? Like before the Greek Gods?” Colin asked.

Jill nodded.

“Is this a joke?” Colin asked. “Our child goes missing and the story is filled with fantasy and…”

“Dad,” Jill said calmly.

Perses appeared in full armor carrying his sword. Colin and Julie’s mouths fell open in shock. Laughing, Paddie jumped up and down. Assessing the situation quickly, Perses put away his sword and picked up Katy. She kissed his cheek.

“Have you met my father?” Jill asked.

Colin and Julie shook their heads slowly.

“Perses,” Jill’s father said.

“The Titan,” Jacob said.

“You’re a friend of my sister Alex,” Colin said. “Does she know that you are a Titan?”

“Your sister, Alex, knows anything she wishes to know,” Perses said with a grin. “She is singularly one of my favorite human beings.”

Colin gave him a vague nod.

“If you’re a Titan, how did you get held captive?” Colin asked.

“That’s a very long story,” Perses said. “How did the children get home?”

“I believe Katy’s sword drew me there to get them,” Jacob said.

Perses gave him a nod and looked at Katy.

“May I see my old sword again?” Perses asked.

“This was yours?” Katy asked.

She opened her hand and the Vanquisher appeared. Perses took the sword from her and looked at it before giving it back. Katy closed her hand and the sword disappeared.

“No worse for wear,” Perses said. “Why am I here?”

“We’re trying to explain the Sword of Truth to Colin and Julie,” Jacob said.

“The reason the children were stolen from their beds,” Jill said.

“Ah, yes,” Perses said.

“Colin is struggling with it not being ‘real,’” Jacob said.

“Ah, yes,” Perses said with a nod. “It’s hard for a soldier such as yourself to believe in anything you cannot touch or taste.”

Colin took in Perses words. After a moment, Colin nodded.

“I just also didn’t…” Colin started. “I mean, Templars? Titans? Objects of Power? It’s like a comic book.”

“Yes, I can see why you say that,” Perses said.

“We’ve been living it ever sense Paddie went to the Isle of Man,” Julie said. “We just didn’t know it.”

Colin looked at his wife for a long moment. He shook his head.

“We’re leaving,” Colin said. He pointed his finger at Jacob. “You have endangered my son for far too long. This friendship with your daughter is over.”

Everyone in the room gawked at him. Colin looked at his wife.

“Julie?” Colin held out his hand for his wife.

Julie shook her head.

“No,” Julie said.

“No?” Colin asked his anger increasing.

“No,” Julie said. “You’re doing that thing that Alex…”

Colin’s hand went to his face. For a moment, no one said anything. Jacob walked up to Colin. Without saying a word, Jacob put his arms around Colin’s shoulders. After a breath, Colin hugged Jacob back.

“These kids,” Jacob said in a soft voice. “They rip our hearts out.”

Colin nodded. When the men separated, Colin wiped his eyes. He looked at Jill and her father.

“Alex told me to watch myself,” Colin said.

“You’re hungry and tired,” Julie said with a nod.

“Which means I am angry,” Colin said with a nod. “I apologize. It’s part of my alcoholism. I’m in recovery but sometimes…”

“There’s a recovery for being an ass?” Jacob asked with a grin. “That’s what I need.”

Colin laughed. Jacob hugged him again.

“Daddy?” Paddie asked.

The child tugged on Colin’s hand. Colin knelt down to his son.

“Don’t take Katy away,” Paddie said. The child’s large blue eyes welled with tears. “Please. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you about the shiny sword. Don’t be mad. Don’t take Katy away.”

Paddie began to cry. Katy began to weep in sympathy. The exhausted children let go of their emotions leaving their parents feeling woefully inadequate.

Colin hugged Paddie. Julie came over and hugged them both. Jill picked up Katy. Jacob hugged them in what Katy called a “Katy sandwich.” After a few minutes, the children’s tears began to slow.

“Why don’t I put the children down and you can keep talking?” Perses asked.

The parents shot him looks of shock and disbelief.

“I have raised my fair share of children,” Perses said.

Katy held out her arms to Perses and he picked her up. Paddie ran over and Perses picked him up as well. Perses nodded to the parents and went to the bedroom where Katy and Paddie had been sleeping.

“You said that you were hungry,” Jacob said. “I have plenty of food here. Most of it is soups and stews that just need to be heated. Why don’t I start something while we talk?”

Jill got up from the table and set the table. Jacob took something from the freezer. Soon, the wafting odor of curry filled the cabin. Jacob started some white rice before sitting down.

Colin and Julie finished talking and sat down on the side of the table near the door.

“Just a few minutes,” Jacob said with a nod.

They sat in uncomfortable silence. Finally, Colin cleared his throat.

“This just happened to you?” Colin asked.

Jill nodded.

“While I was in labor with the twins,” Jill said. “We were so focused on getting the babies born and then caring for them that six months or so went by before we realized that Paddie had the sword.”

Colin gave a slight nod.

“And you didn’t tell us because…?” Julie asked.

“I never thought of it,” Jacob said.

“I didn’t either,” Jill said. “I’m sorry. It’s the truth. It never occurred to us to tell you about the sword or any of what we knew. We just kept…” Jill sighed, and added, “Living.”

“I understand,” Julie said. “We had Conner and…”

Julie nodded.

“You didn’t not tell us on purpose?” Colin asked. “Because I’m a drunk or…?”

“I’ve known you a long, long time,” Jacob said to Colin. “It wouldn’t occur to me to not tell you because you have a problem or are working on something. You’re a good person, a good friend. Paddie is so like you.”

“It’s amazing,” Jill said softly.

“You’ll tell us in the future?” Colin asked.

“Absolutely,” Jacob said.

Jill nodded.

“I think that’s all we can ask,” Colin said.

“I want to know if Paddie is still in danger of these fairies,” Julie said. “They seem highly unbalanced.”

“The children are safe for now,” Jill said.

“They are safe here,” Jacob said. “And we’re working on a plan to deal with these fairies.”

“A plan?” Colin asked. “You aren’t sure yet how to deal with them?”

Jacob nodded.

“When you’re ready, I’d like to join you in making sure they don’t hurt my son.”

“Or take him again,” Julie said.

“Fair enough,” Jacob said.

Jacob held out his hand and Colin shook it. The bell on the rice cooker rang. With a nod, Jacob went to get the curry stew. They ate in silence. After dinner, Jill set up the folding couch for Colin and Julie. They went to bed. Jill heard Julie and Colin whisper for a long time after they went to bed. She wasn’t sure what would happen the next day but she felt like they were going to see a lot more of Colin and Julie in the future.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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