This world was weak. Everywhere he looked, everywhere he stepped, there were humans. He saw no other races, only the pathetic, thin-skinned things that had already tried to harm him in their strange, metal beasts that spat fire and died so easily. His master had made him special, strengthening him while still in the egg to become a weapon of sheer and utter ruination upon the world of mankind. He had been unleashed when his master had willed it, and had fully enjoyed the carnage and destruction he’d been allowed to wreak.
But there was no master now.
The foul sorcerer that had entombed him and their very world within the Sealing had been the eventual downfall of his master, Lord Balenar. Drakkar could recall very well how their final meeting had gone, and what Aeson had done. Balenar had never been a hero, that much was certain, but he had been a point of order in an otherwise chaotic world that had continued to shift and churn as a result of the Great Breaking. Aeson had been little more than an adventurous sot, a wandering vagabond skilled in the ways of magic and warfare. He’d never been a hero or even the type to champion a cause unless it was in his best interest.
Yet he’d shown that he could fool others into believing that this was not so. He’d lied and cajoled his way into the trust of so many that he could have been a ruler in his own right. But he’d been too much of a careless fop to accomplish such a thing. He’d enjoyed tormenting Lord Balenar too much to be anything but a nuisance, albeit a deadly one.
Drakkar felt the metal frame of one of the many fleeing conveyances crush beneath one of his clawed feet, it’s jagged edges scratching against his scales without leaving a mark. His scales were tougher than any surface in the world as his master had told him, able to withstand the barbed jabs of an infinite amount of arrows, the blistering heat of a star, and even the intense pressures that lay deep within the earth that could crush a much lesser being. He knew very well by now that the frightened, panicked things he’d seen moving about in droves were not alive. They might appear so by some type of magic, but in truth they were little better than imbued automatons that could not function without their human controllers.
These things could not attack, they could not so much as move without the manipulation of their human masters, and that made them equally pathetic. The metal creatures that had buzzed at him from the air and delivered their stinging jabs still had not damaged a single scale on his body. Did nothing in this world present a threat?
He knew of one creature that could harm him, and that one had yet to show his face,
proving that he was still the same person he had been in the world of before, a coward. Despite
his power, despite the fact that he could in fact contend with one such as Drakkar, Aeson was still a fool, and a weakling.
But he was a fool that Drakkar would enjoy skinning inch by torturous inch.
* * *
Coeur D’Alene Resort and Casino
Coeur D’Alene, ID
“I don’t see why you won’t allow it,” Aeson said, “It would be quite simple.”
“It would also be a huge red flag to wave for the agency to see.”
“So we hit a few machines and do it all stealthy-like. How are they going to catch us if we’re not hitting jackpots on every machine?”
Offer sighed, “You really don’t get it do you? Without looking tell me that you see those black nodules in the ceiling. Almost every casino has them.”
“Yeah,” Finn said with a bored look, “The eyes in the sky, I know. But they’re not always watching as much as people seem to think. Plus, we could always manipulate those too.”
“Well hell then why don’t you just find a way to cause a power outage and we’ll have ourselves a looting party?” Offer hissed, keeping his voice low as the three of them continued to sit and watch the reactions of those around the pub.
News reports were still coming in as armed forces had been called in to deal with the dragon, but were having little if any luck. Bullets bounced off, causing possible collateral damage and casualties, even rockets were ineffective as they detonated on impact without any sign of damage, or were knocked out of the sky by the dragon. These latter attacks had elicited a station wide shut down as test screens had been initiated and the newscast had simply gone down without any explanation.
Offer had surmised that the missiles had detonated in populated areas and the casualties were bound to be high, not to mention the fact that the news anchors wouldn’t know how to react. Humans were quite horrible at covering such wanton acts of destruction unless they were far removed from the violence in some way. Even those that were could not always hold their emotions in check. The Portland newscasters were no doubt concerned about the safety of loved ones, or themselves, and simply would not be sticking around. It was a wise move really since it had appeared that Drakkar had been tearing through Portland like a child through a sandcastle.
The dragon would find no impediment to its forward movement if legends were accurate enough about his strength and durability. At this point Offer couldn’t rightfully disagree that anything he’d ever heard about Drakkar was true.
“That’s not a bad idea,” Finn said with a grin.
“I wasn’t being serious,” Offer said, shaking his head.
“Why not?” Aeson asked, “We need more coin to reach the east coast as you said, and this place seems to have that currency in abundance.”
“It’s not right!” Offer hissed at both of them, “I took funds from the agency that were set
in place for emergencies, slush funds that would have sat there doing nothing and serving no one.”
“And that makes it better?” Finn asked, cocking an eyebrow as he spoke.
“It makes a difference,” Offer said, “I didn’t take anyone’s hard earned money to line my pockets.”
“So now you want to talk semantics,” Finn said with a grin, “That’s interesting. If that’s the case, then what happened to Cully-“
“Needs to stay off of your damned lips,” Offer said with a growl. He did not lean forward, but with the tone of his voice he made it clear that he would not be discussing this right now.
“He was my friend,” Finn said, “I didn’t want him dead, just out of the way.”
“I’m not going into this again with you,” Offer said, shaking his head, “Robbing this place would be wrong, and I want no part of it.”
“These places are insured you know,” Finn said, “You wouldn’t be leaving them destitute. Plus, casinos aren’t exactly innocent when it comes to bilking the people. You really think their systems are entirely fair?”
“People don’t come to casinos expecting to be robbed,” Offer countered.
“And we wouldn’t be robbing the people!” Finn said, somehow keeping his voice low, “We’d be robbing the damned casino you walking tree stump!”
“Why don’t you talk a little louder?” Offer said sarcastically, “I don’t think the front desk clerk heard you.”
“Gentleman, this point is now moot,” Aeson said, putting his hands flat upon the table.
“What do you mean?” Finn asked, looking at the elf and then looking to his left. Finn’s eyes widened as they saw no less than four big, armed security guards bearing down on them as they continued to sit there. Each man was dressed in the beige shirt with dark blue piping and dark slacks that was the standard uniform, and each of them had a gun, a taser, and a can of pepper spray on their belts. They looked very tough, but Offer and Finn were less than impressed. The only real issue was that once this was all said and done they would have to be on their way again.
The lead man, a big, burly-looking specimen with dark, olive-toned skin and equally dark eyes, stepped up to the table as he leaned over, placing one large hand upon the surface as he looked at all of them.
“I’m going to need you gentlemen to come with me,” he said, his voice thick and foreboding as his eyes settled on Offer.
“What for?” Finn asked, grinning as the security officer turned to him. The big man didn’t seem impressed by Finn, and in fact loomed a little closer as though to intimidate him. Offer almost rolled his eyes, hoping against hope that Finn would only incapacitate and not kill him.
“We got a tip that you three are grafters looking for an easy score. This casino has a strict
no-nonsense policy when it comes to dealing with anyone that’s caught trying to scam or
otherwise defraud the system.”
“We’ve been sitting here drinking,” Offer said, “We haven’t even gone near the machines or the tables.”
“Your boy here has,” the guard said, pointing a thick finger at Aeson.
“How’s that?” Offer frowned, “He’s been with us the whole time.”
“Tell that to the security cameras,” the man growled, “Now get up, or we’ll get you up.”
“Sorry guys, that kind of thing just isn’t our scene,” Finn said with a grin. It took the guard a moment to understand what Finn was saying, but when he did his eyes narrowed dangerously as he reached for Finn. Aeson was quicker though as he uttered a single word in the same language as before, slamming his right hand on the table as he stood suddenly.
Both Finn and Offer frowned as Aeson just as quickly reached for both of them, grabbing their hands as a strange, glow began to emanate from where Aeson had slapped the table. It expanded quickly, moving upward, outward, and downward as the shimmering lavender glow quickly enveloped them all, and stole Offer’s breath as he watched what happened.
As soon as the shimmering wave of energy touched anything or anyone, they stopped, frozen as though in amber. The world around them seemed to slow and stop all at once as the wave of energy continued to expand and push forward, catching everyone that stood in its path without fail.
“What?” Offer asked.
“A time suspension spell,” Aeson said, grimacing slightly, “It’s very hard to cast on the heels of the elemental copy spell I just cast earlier.”
“Wait, so they were right? You were scamming their tables?”
Aeson nodded, “Through the conjoined use of an illusion and elemental spell of wind I was able to copy myself and send several illusory images throughout the establishment. Earlier I discovered that each machine and game in this gambling hall is designed to pay out only once every so often, which leaves the game of chance ever in the favor the dealers and the establishment.”
“Well, yeah,” Offer said, “That’s how casinos make money.”
“But it is not just,” Aeson said, “How can so many people lose their riches so willingly?”
“Some say it’s a sickness,” Finn said with a shake of his head, “I just think it’s being stupid.”
“So now what?” Offer asked, looking up at the guard, “Would he feel it if I hit him?”
“Yes,” Aeson said, “But not until the spell wears off, or I dismiss it.”
“And how long do we have?” Offer asked.
“Until I dismiss it,” Aeson said with a grunt, “I can hold this particular spell for quite some time.”
“Then perhaps it’s best if we got up and took our leave now,” Offer said, “This is the kind of attention that would attract the agency if we’re here when the spell does wear off.”
Aeson could tell that both men were trying not to act impressed, but were ultimately
failing. He couldn’t blame them, he had been duly impressed with this effect when he had first
seen it used in battle. Once he had mastered it however he had used it sparingly, preferring to use
his wits and sword skills to extricate himself from many a situation.
The three men rose from the table, moving around the guards as they went. Finn stopped for just a moment, taking the time to carefully tap two fingers hard into several different nerve points as Offer watched with irritation.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“This guy wasn’t going to go easy on me,” he said plainly, “I figure I owe him a little something just for show.”
Offer rolled his eyes as he walked after Aeson, who was already heading right out of the pub and down the main thruway that would lead them out of the casino. As they walked he could see the shimmering purple wave envelop everything as it continually moved forward. People that had noticed the effect and were trying to move away were still caught as it sped up in accordance with Aeson’s pace.
“How far does this effect reach?” Offer asked him, catching up as he kept an eye out to make sure Finn was following. The man was grinning ear to ear after what he’d done, but he was at least still with them.
“If remaining in one place it is limited to a range of a few hundred feet. If I move, the effect will move with me. The fringes will begin to return to real time eventually, but only when my concentration upon them flags. Otherwise, this casino and the outlying areas will not be moving for some time.”
“So it moves with you then?” Offer asked.
“Yes indeed,” Aeson nodded, walking past the front desk just as the wave caught upon those in front of them, stilling everyone it touched and even halting the front doors as they opened to admit a new group of guests.
“You are a dangerous man,” Finn said as they walked past those caught in the effect, smiling all the while, “I love it!”
“Touch another one and I’ll break your fingers,” Offer said, pulling back just enough to grab Finn and force him forward. He was ready to be quit of this place, but first they had to retrieve Callie and Nina.
* * *
Port Kenyon, CA
“Is my transport ready?” Eve stood watching the screens, all but emotionless as she and the others could see the rampaging creature that was now making his way from the ruins of Portland towards the Columbia River and presumably Washington.
“Ready and waiting ma’am,” James said, his voice somewhat subdued.
“Have the assets arrived yet?”
“They’re en route ma’am” James replied, “ETA roughly ten minutes out.”
“Good. Inform me when they’ve arrived and have them escorted to my office.”
She walked from the room without another word, seething inside as she could only imagine what was going through her father’s mind. Drakkar was something that this world had not seen in far too long, and none of those living had ever laid eyes upon a beast that could not be wounded by any conventional means. He would storm through one territory after another seeking to wreak whatever carnage he could until her father finally stood up and did something. So why wasn’t he? Aeson was walking free from the Sealing and should have been well rested by now, fully in charge of his magic, and thus able to stop the rampaging beast. So what was he waiting for?
Her office wasn’t that far away but at this moment it felt as though it were miles apart from the control room. So heavy was her heart in that moment that Eve felt certain that she might at any moment simply collapse as she thought of the countless lives that had been lost in the past week and how such a thing could have been avoided. For all intents and purposes the former judicial and recruiter know as Offer Pendaganst had her father, Finn Parker, and a newly accepted trainee in his company and for some reason had decided to betray them. They were at large as they spoke and nowhere to be found, and Drakkar was being allowed to run free causing havoc. None of it seemed fair, and in fact it was not, but she couldn’t stand around complaining about it. She needed to find Offer and his group and get them back to headquarters.
Reaching her office she pushed through the glass door as it swung on its silent hinges, returning to its rightful position slowly as she went to sit behind her desk. There was a great deal to be done as she hit the intercom button on her desk that would gain James’ attention.
“Get me a line to the Battleground office in Washington. We need to inform them what’s happened if they don’t already know and to be prepared for what might come their way.”
“Yes ma’am. The Harpy and Honey Badger have landed ma’am and are on their way to you now.”
“Good. Thank you James. Get that line for me please.”
The line clicked as James switched over to dial the Battleground office. She heard the line chirp once to indicate that it was connected and then a voice came over the line that she knew very well. The woman sounded rather unnerved, but she kept her composure just enough to be professional.
“Kelly’s Flowers, may I help you?”
“Director E code 459 Omega Bravo.”
There were a few indistinct clicks and then a short burst of static before the woman on the other line spoke up again.
“All clear ma’am. Director is what we’re looking at real?”
“It is Agent Kane, and to be quite honest I’m just as shocked as you are.”
“The Portland office is a total loss?”
“Yes it is. The masonry is continuing to plummet as the lower floors continue to buckle,
and the entire infrastructure has collapsed.”
“Gods,” the woman on the other end breathed. “Is there any backup coming?”
She had to take a breath before answering, “No. I have the Harpy and the Honey Badger coming in to help with a search, but the Portland office is currently down and there has yet to be found any way that the beast can be taken down.”
“Is this what we’ve vigilant for all these years director?” There was a note of helplessness in Agent Kane’s voice, a tone that Eve could not help but feel in her own heart as she paused for just a moment.
“We’ve been preparing for something Agent Kane, but none of us expected something like this.”
“Yes ma’am,” the woman said, her voice resolute now, “Is the target headed this way director?”
“There is a possibility of that. That’s why I want you and your people to prepare the office as much as possible and then evacuate.”
“Evacuate? We’re just giving up?”
“We’re not giving up Agent Kane,” she said irritably, “We’re falling back and regrouping. The last thing we want to do is let the armed forces of the United States start lobbing nuclear warheads at this thing in an attempt to feel out its weaknesses. The chances are good that the bigwigs have already been talking about it, but there’s also a chance that dissenting voices might still hold sway. We need to find a means by which to hurt this thing or at least change it’s mind about stomping through anymore cities.
“Now I need you and your people to evacuate, take all pertinent data, weapons, and other supplies that are needed and fall back towards the Longview office. I’ll phone ahead and inform them that you’re en route and are to be accepted in once you’re in sight.”
The Longview office was at least double the size of the Portland office and ran beneath the majority of the city, it’s many sprawling corridors and maze-like passages guarded from above by shock absorbing materials and devices that had been set in place decades ago when the entire agency had been overhauled as a security measure. Back then the emergence of those with the spark had been enough to send those within the agency into a type of overdrive when it had come to their overall defenses.
“Yes ma’am,” Agent Kane said. Her voice betrayed her disappointment, but many of the top agents in the company wouldn’t dare to question their superiors and as a result they had a very tightly-run operation where questions were rare and obedience was everything. Eve stayed on the line for a moment longer as she sensed that Agent Kane was doing the same.
“Yes Agent Kane,” she replied.
“What’s going to happen next?”
She was silent for several moments again, hanging her head as she could hear footsteps from down the hall.
“I don’t know Agent Kane, but when I do, you’ll be contacted.”
There was silence for a few seconds, and then, “Yes Director.”
The line went silent as she raised her eyes to the glass doors leading into the hallway.
“The hunt is on my dear,” said a voice from behind her. Eve could not disagree, but she had no idea if they were the hunter, or the prey.
* * *
Coeur D’Alene Resort and Casino
Coeur D’Alene, ID
“Well this is awkward.”
They walked into the pool area to see that the time stop had already affected everybody within. A few individuals looked as though they’d seen the effect coming and had tried to run, or rise from their chair, or do anything but just sit and watch. Nina and Callie had both been stretched out on their own pool lounger, each of them resting easily and somehow oblivious to the young men that had come up behind their loungers. One of the men had what looked like a wet towel in both hands and was about to wring it out over Callie’s face. The droplets of water that had been caught by the time stop still hung in the air, waiting to descend upon the unknowing features of the young girl as she lay relaxing in the warmth of the room.
The other one had not been caught in such an innocent pose. In fact it was safe to say that had Nina woken to find the young man’s crotch so near her face she might have recoiled in horror or lashed out in anger depending on her mood. None of the men could figure out just why these two young men would behave in such a manner, but it had already been decided that it didn’t matter.
“Can I please do something to them?” Finn asked Offer, “Please? I might be an ass but at least I wouldn’t do something like this. Just let me do something to these guys and I won’t ask again for at least another day or so.”
Offer rolled his eyes, “You’re like a child. What’s that going to do, really?”
Finn gestured to the young men, who couldn’t move so much as a single muscle of their body. They were essentially easy pickings in that moment.
“The guy almost has his junk in her face!” Finn protested, “And this other little douche is about douse Callie for absolutely no reason! Are you telling me this is acceptable behavior?!”
“No,” Offer said gruffly, “No I am not. But hurting them wouldn’t be justified either.”
“How do you figure?”
Offer had no ready answer for that, but still shook his head, “Why do you enjoy hurting people so much?”
“It all depends on the situation,” Finn said, looking pointedly at the scene in front of them Offer knew he wouldn’t let in if he wasn’t appeased in some way, and so, shaking his head again, he let out a long sigh.
“Fine, but not so bad that they can’t walk away.”
“Hoo yeah,” Finn said, a big smile on his face as Aeson and Offer went to retrieve the
“I mean it Finn,” Offer said, “The last thing we need right now is a murder charge.”
“Oh who would know?” Finn asked, ignoring Offer as he allowed Aeson by. The elf spoke a few words and tapped both Nina and Callie on the shoulders, whereupon they both suddenly stiffened and sat up, Callie crying out as she felt the water droplets hit her face.
“What the hell?!” she cried.
“Time to get up and get your clothes on,” Offer said, “It’s time we got going.”
“What’s going on? Oh God!” Nina cried as she lashed out in reflex. Her closed fist struck the crotch of the young man that had been leaning over her, creating a dimple in his shorts that remained as she backed away hurriedly.
“What in the hell?” she asked, looking up at Aeson.
“It is called a time stop spell,” Aeson explained, “It is essentially allowing us to step outside of time and move about unhindered. We had to escape from several burly men in the pub.”
“All because of your bright idea to run the machines,” Offer said, handing Callie a towel.
“What?” Nina asked, “What in the world are you guys talking about?”
“It’s a bit of a story, but you four should really go on now,” Finn said, eyeing the young men as though attempting to figure out just what he wanted to do.
“What are you doing?” Callie asked Finn, eyeing him with great suspicion.
“Teaching,” Finn said as he lashed out at the towel carrier, his right fist hitting the young man hard upon the breastbone. An indentation of his fist was left behind as he watched, and he was quick to slam his fist into another tender area as he came up from below, watching the fabric of the boy’s swim shorts bunch and fold around his knuckles.
For the other one he gave only a few hard slaps to the young man’s face accompanied by a hard stomp to his tailbone that would undoubtedly drop the man to his knees whenever the effect wore off.
“Okay,” Finn said, clapping his hands together as he walked off, “I’m done.”
“There is something so wrong with you,” Callie remarked as she reached for her clothes.
“Thank you very little,” Finn said before walking out of the area. Offer followed, not wanting to take his eyes off of the other man.
Callie rolled her eyes as she and Nina started getting dressed. Aeson was still nearby, but he was looking away as his eyes were aimed at the front reception area.
“Is there any particular direction we need to be going?” Callie asked, “I can’t see much in the way of any future events at the moment.”
“No I suspect not,” Aeson said, “Foretelling the future is difficult when time does not move. But Offer said something about wishing to head east, so I suppose that is where we will be going.”
“How far east?”
“To the next coast I would assume,” Aeson said, “I am still new to this world in its current form, and have yet to really understand it completely.”
“And we have enough funds to do this?”
Aeson grinned, “We might very well in the next few moments.”
Callie arched an eyebrow, “Do I want to know what that means?”
“Probably not,” Aeson replied as he walked away.
Nina and Callie could only share a look as Callie shook her head, “You know about as much as I know right now.”
As she walked away Nina finished getting her clothes back on, taking one look back at the young men that had been harassing them. Shaking her head she began to walk towards the group, wondering if anything was going to make sense again.
* * *
Port Kenyon, CA
The Harpy was female and only in her mid-thirties. Her real name was Joanne Stratton and she had been recruited as an agent when she was only nineteen. There had been something in her file stating that she had severe issues with authority and had actually head-butted her drill instructor in basic training when she was just eighteen. That type of offense should have immediate ground for punishment and possible dismissal, but considering how high she’d scored on her aptitude tests and her level of conditioning Eve had been impressed enough to bring her in. Joanne had shown a remarkable turnaround when the agency trainers had gotten a hold of her, largely because dismissal due to insubordination was not something that Eve had ever believed in.
Instead she had instructed the trainers to hammer into Joanne a sense that she was not in control, that she was their property, and that she would do as they said. She had fought this idea incessantly for nearly three months before she had finally gotten the idea of what they were doing. Eve hadn’t wanted her broken, she’d just wanted to teach her that this world was hers if she wanted it, so long as she knew when to be aggressive and when to back down. Once she’d gotten that lesson Joanne had become one of the best operatives the agency had ever had.
It also helped that her spark made her a relentless tracker and a strong and capable warrior. Untrained she’d been easy to take down, but after her training she had become an unstoppable force of nature. She was stronger than five of Eve’s best agents put together, and her spark allowed her to actually see the emanations left behind in the earth’s electromagnetic field when someone passed by. It was something that most would have chalked up to science fiction, but it was very real in the case of the Harpy.
Every individual left their mark on the world in one way or another and never knew about it. Their passage through one area or another was noticed by the world in general and the gravitational field that kept them all grounded. The Harpy was able to see into the spectrum that allowed her to take note of where people had been by the signature they left behind in the earth’s gravitational field. In other words, she could see the ghostly image of their passage.
Her dark red hair and pale white skin stood in stark contrast to the dark fatigues she wore,
but Joanne was still quite fetching. Green eyes the color of jade blazed from their sockets as she stood at attention on the other side of the desk. Her fellow agent, the man known as the Honey Badger, stood at attention as well, and almost looked bored as he cast his dark brown gaze upon the desk.
He was a good deal shorter than Joanne but still few inches taller than Eve. His build was solid and his shoulders were quite broad. She could remember recruiting him after he’d been denied advancement in his military career due to a failed psych evaluation. Jameson Towns was a man that enjoyed what he did, and what he had learned to do the best was hurt people. As a soldier he’d been absolutely ruthless and had even wanted to join every conflict that could be found. His instructors had had to reprimand him more than once for his ferocity during training exercises and had even threatened to suggest his dismissal if he didn’t adhere to their rules and regulations for combat training.
Jameson had been on the verge of washing out when Eve had found him. Like Joanne he’d taken some effort to shape up, but thankfully he’d done as was required of him and had finally shown that he could take orders and do what was expected. His spark allowed him an almost supernatural toughness that hardened his skin in such a way that she had seen knife thrusts and bullets do minimal, if any damage when his spark was engaged.
Unlike Joanna however he couldn’t maintain the use of his spark for very long. Jameson was good to repel a few rounds from a firearm but after that the demand on his body would be too much. This was why his training had been so important, and why it was fortunate that he had taken to it with great zeal. When he had intentionally injured his first sparring partner though Eve had cleared the trainer to take him down with maximum force if necessary. Considering the trainer had been a highly skilled operative at one time, Jameson hadn’t lasted more than ten seconds. But it had gotten the point across and at this time he was one of their best.
“There’s some strange stuff going on out there ma’am,” Jameson bothered to say, “Is that really a dragon that’s stomping towards Washington?”
“It is,” Eve said calmly. Most operatives would never speak before being spoken to, but the rules had never fully applied to these two, or so they were allowed to believe. In terms of treating them like any other agent she gave both some leeway largely because they took on some of the biggest assignments and were thus afforded a slightly elevated status among the rest.
“Is that why we got called in?” Joanna asked.
“No,” Even said plainly, “You were called in for something else.”
“Permission to not crap my pants then?” Jameson said in a joking tone. Eve thought this was in bad taste, but did not bother admonishing the man. It did not do to treat these types of operatives like children.
“I would hope you realize that I don’t employ you two for anything other than what I believe you can handle.” She noticed as they both bristled just slightly at this statement, but kept going. “The job I have for both of you is one that you might find a bit more to your liking, but it’s nowhere near easy.”
“Easy’s not as fun as some people seem to think,” Joanna remarked.
“Indeed,” Even answered with a nod of her head, “But this is job will be something that will test every inch of fortitude you have. You’re going after Offer Pendanganst.”
There was silence between the three of them for a moment as Joanna and Jameson’s eyes both widened. They knew very well who Offer was, most people in the agency did.
“Please tell me that’s a joke,” Joanna said with a shake of her head.
“No,” Eve affirmed, “It is not. Offer Pendaganst and Finn Parker are currently in possession of an asset that is necessary for this agency to halt the progress of the creature that is currently on the loose. I presume that you have also noticed the unforeseen development that has taken root in Seaside, Oregon.”
“You mean that unknown medieval forest that’s spread from the outskirts?” Jameson asked.
Eve just nodded.
“Yeah, but for all we knew it wasn’t even connected.”
“It is very much connected,” Eve said calmly, “How much do you two know about the Sealing?”
Joanne snorted as she chuckled, as did Jameson. It was an expected reaction. After all, despite the fact that the agency dealt with those that had the spark and the supposed magical effects that they could create, science had done away with much of the belief in the arcane. In truth they were as close to the same thing as could be, but the link between humans and the unseen energy within this world had not been felt by many individuals in a great deal of time. It was safe to say that for many generations that magic had been relegated to the fantastical and unbelievable in favor of hard, unforgiving scientific fact.
“You’re serious?” Joanne asked, her chuckling dying down as they could both see that Eve was not amused. “That was just a myth though. Something that children would believe.”
“Do I look like a child to you?” Eve asked calmly.
“No ma’am,” Jameson said quickly. They both adopted a more professional manner in that moment, straightening up as though they’d just been verbally reprimanded. Her reputation in the agency was well known to most, and respected by everyone. In many instances Eve had never even been required to raise her voice to regain order in any way.
“The Sealing is very real, and was instigated long before the world as we know it now existed. It is a parallel world that was modeled from this one, meant to trap and contain the world that came before, in the days when Pangaea still existed and the world was a much different place.”
“But how?” Joanna asked, “How could such a thing be possible without anyone knowing about it?”
“I know about it,” Eve said softly, “Because I was there. Myself, and one other. Those that came later on knew nothing of this new world because they had been born to one that had already been established. The link between magic and this world had been all but severed, and those that remained were forced to start anew.”
“You were there?”
Eve brushed her fingers over her ears, revealing the truth of her lineage to the two of them in a way that she did not do lightly. Most people in the agency simply thought of her as exotic, alluring, and uncommonly beautiful. The idea of what she truly was did not occur to many, nor was it allowed to. As she showed them the tips of her elegantly pointed ears however, both Joann and Jameson frowned, and then both of the jaws dropped as their eyes widened.