Castle Roland


by Kyle Aarons

In Progress

Chapter 9

Published: 8 Apr 14

Destiny's Shadow

Copyright © 2011 - 2015 by
Kyle Aarons

Braeden glanced over to Drake as he slipped his seatbelt on. "I didn't exactly get much sleep last night so you may need to help me stay awake."

"OK, Bray, do you want me to talk or somethin'."

Braeden glanced at his GPS on his phone, got where he needed to go to get to Tulsa, then shut the GPS feature back off. "Sure. Can you tell me about you making things blow up?"

"Uh huh... Mom and Brute used to get really mad and hurt me when it happen though."

"Brute? You aren't talking about the big guy with the lower part of his left ear missing who helps run then Gunners, are you?"

Drake shook his head, "He don't' run em; he gets em their guns."

"Oh... Braeden looked over at Drake with some skepticism, "Word on the street is he helps run them."

Drake shrugged, "Uh uh, just gets them guns. Most come from someone called China. Some comes from the cops."

"The cops? No way!"

"Me see him one time and heard him three times when mom locked me in the metal foot box thing Brute kept in front of the bed. I don't get it none, but he always talked about doin' something about rifles or something cause if they didn't it would show the guns didn't get melted once they got out of a place called a evidence room."

"Do you know what the cop looks like?"

"He's way tall and skinny. Had a gun on his leg and under his arm. He gave me a weird look and his eyes changed color a little when he told me to forget me see him. My head hurt and then it happed the first time... or maybe the second. My head felt the same way after the car windows blow up at Eastmorland."

Braeden let out a long breath, "OK, one thing at a time, what happened after the cop looked at you... did you say his eyes changed color?"

"Uh huh, they was dark brown, but flashed to light brown as the cop told me to forget him. He put me in the closet and my head hurt right here." Drake pointed to his temples. "Me felt it... a squeeze...right here." This time he pointed to his forehead. "Then everything in the closet fell on me."

"Oh, so you knocked everything down?"

Drakes eyes went real wide and he tilted well away from Braeden. "Uh huh, but me didn't touch nothing Bray, honest!"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, It's OK to talk about it Drake." Braeden reached over and started rubbing Drakes back to calm him down. "I am not going to hit you!"

Drake wiped a few tears away with his fingers and turned and looked out the window, "Mom said me lie when me try to tell her and would hit me and then tell Brute and he would hit me. Me try to tell them me didn't touch nothin' Bray, me try real hard..." the boy stopped as he gulped back a sob.

"Ah, man... I'm sure you did try Drake. But they can't hurt you now, and when Cinder finds out about this Brute guy, he will hunt down Brute and make it right.

Drake shook his head. "He can't."

"He can't..." Braeden responded, knowing he was missing something. He half expected Drake to say something like 'he'll get hurt or, he'll get shot' and not want Cinder to try, but the simple words 'he can't' with no worry didn't seem like the proper response. "What do you mean he can't?"

"If I tell the cops will take me."

"Over Cinder's and my dead bodies, Drake. No one is going to take you..." Once again Braeden felt some alarm bells going off. "Come on, we're friends and friends can talk to each other. Did something happen to Brute?"

"You won't tell the cops?"

"Come on, Drake, I would never tell them anything and certainly never about you. But I need to know why Uncle Cinder can't go after the guy."

"Cause..." Drake glanced over at Braeden then back out the passenger side window, "Hank's gone."


"Hank's his name. Only the Gunners and Vipers called him Brute."

"Oh, OK, so Brute is gone... Where did he go?"

Drake trembled slightly but still spoke in a very soft voice. "Mom put me in the closet and the stuff fell again, so Brute thought me do it to make him mad. He hit me way more bad than normal, so did mom... Brute put me in the metal box by the bed again and sat on it so it shut all the way and he locked it..."

Drake looked over with tears in his eyes, "I was cryin' real bad and couldn't get enough air. Me shouted and stuff, but only made Brute more mad. He started kicking the box and cussing... There was a rat in there Bray... It got real scared like me and started bitting me.... Me tired to tell 'em Bray..."

Braeden glanced at the boy's seatbelt for a second and mentally said 'fuck you Cinder' and undid it so he could pull Drake closer. "I'm so sorry...."

Braeden watch with some concern as Drake gulped in some air and put his head so deeply into his side it hurt, but other than adjust the boy's head just enough to where it wasn't digging into his ribs. The teen then put his arm around Drake and held him.

Several miles went by before Drake spoke up again, "Hank started laughing at me, Bray, and the rat wouldn't leave me alone. It started to come out..." He tapped his forehead again, "I tried to stop it, but the rat bit me again and I couldn't move around enough to make it stop... Then it got me real good on the back of my neck and it hurt real bad. Me did it real bad..."

"Did what?"

Yet again Drake tapped his forehead. "It always start right here... Me made the metal box blow up... Part of it got Hank in the neck... Mom started screaming and hitting me again... blood was all over. It was my fault!"

"Oh, man, no... you were trying to, like, protect yourself. No one can blame you!"

"Mom does. She took all the money Brute had left and took me. The money ran out after a couple a days. We was real hungry with no food er nothin' for two days so she called Slice and said he could finally have me. There was a fight about money and me, but then me don't remember nothin' till me wake up at Uncle Cinder's, but it hurt right here." Drake tapped his temples again, "so me think it happen again er something."

Braeden gently stroked Drake's cheek. "Well, it's a good thing Cinder found you and your mom and even better your mom gave you to him. Those bad things won't happen no more."

"But me made the bed go boom, Bray. Bad things do keep happening!"

"I bet you can learn to control it."

"But it just happens, me don't want to do it none."

Braeden glanced held onto Drake for several more minutes until he saw an abandoned road side diner. He pulled into the lot and looked down at Drake, "Hey, I have an idea."

Drake sat up and looked around, "What?"

"Come on."

Braeden opened the door and motioned for Drake to join him. He then locked the jeep and moved around to the back of the old building, mostly so if something went wrong, the jeep wouldn't get hurt, and pointed to one of the few remaining windows. "Drake, try to break it."

Drake looked over at Braeden with a truly puzzled stare for a few moments, but finally reached down and grabbed a rock.

Braeden forced himself not to laugh as he grabbed the small hand before it could throw the small broken hunk of concrete. "No, little buddy. Use this." He tapped Drake's forehead.

"I can't..."

"Yes you can. Come on, try!"

Drake looked up and saw nothing but encouragement in the teen's eyes so he looked at the window and tried to make it break. Nothing happed. He looked back to Braeden again only to get a nod, so he tried again. This time he gritted his teeth tired to force something to happen by thrusting his head forward as hard as he could. Again nothing. "See, I can't, Bray."

Braeden looked a bit disappointed but was not yet ready to throw in the towel. He had not survived for several years on the streets by being easily defeated. Suddenly he though back to the video and grinned. "Hey, Drake, wouldn't it be real cool if the window started shaking like there was a ghost on the other side hitting it and trying to get out?"

Drake's eyes lit up, "Yeah!"

Suddenly the window started to shake.

"Wow!" Drake whistled, "It is haunted!"

A sly grin played across Braeden's face, "I bet if it was really haunted the back door would suddenly blow open!"

Almost instantly the nailed shut back door started to shake then shot open, sending bits and pieces of the door frame outward almost hitting the two boys.

Braeden cringed as he pulled Drake back a few more steps, but wanted to see just how far he could push this. "To really make it haunted the door would start swinging back and forth while the window rattled and the wood boarding up the bottom windows would start cracking and breaking."

It took only moments for the wood to start creaking in protest while the door started moving and the window rattled. One by one the frames around the boarded up windows started to crack as did the boards in the windows. By now, Drakes were wide and almost gleeful, "What else Bray!"

Braeden felt his own eyes go a bit wide in shock as he realize Drake was capable of talking while all but ripping a building apart. Still, since the boy didn't seem harmed by any of this he decided to push it up one more notch. "Well, with all of this going on, the two metal trash drums by the back door could start jumping up and down."

This time, there was a bit of a delay and Drake's hand moved up to his temples for a moment, but suddenly the two fifty five gallon metal drums shout straight up, almost ten feet in the air and came crashing back down.

"Holy shit!" Braeden stated in shock and awe. "OK Drake stop..."

Once again the twin drums launched straight up, this time to well over twenty feet.

Braeden watched in near horror as the drums crashed back down only to blast straight back up again, this time to close to thirty feet into the air, easily clearing the roof of the formally nice diner. Yet even while this was happening the other things continued to move, shake and crack. He reached out and grabbed Drake's shoulder. "Hey, stop! This is all you! STOP!"

Drake suddenly jerked his eyes away from the diner. The twin drums slammed into the ground much like a clash of symbols signaling the end to a major orchestra piece. Drake turned back around at the sound and his jaw dropped as he touched his temples. It took a few seconds for Braeden's words to sink while the spots in front of his eyes cleared. "It was me! It was really me!"

Braeden took a step back and took a knee while he tried to stop his hands form shaking. "Yeah, buddy... it was you..."

Before Braeden could say more Drake ran over to him and wrapped his arms around him. "You helped me and it doesn't even hurt very much!" Felling the teen shaking, Drake became a bit confused, "Are you cold?"

"No... you just had me a bit worried." Braeden sucked in a couple more deep breaths while wrapping his arms around the boy. "I had no idea just how powerful you are, and I was afraid you'd like hurt yourself with everything you were doing. Are you sure you are OK?"

"Uh huh!" Drake nodded eagerly. "Can we do it again?"

Braeden almost said no, but there was still a major problem. Drake knew he could do it now but still didn't have any real control. He nodded, "OK, but no more big stuff. We need to, like, figure out how you can get some real control without me, like, guiding you so much." He pried the boy loose and turned him around so he was facing the back of the diner again. "You ready?"

"Yeah!" The eagerness dripped from Drake's tone.

Braeden cringed, hoping he was not unlocking something too dangerous. But if he could get Drake to control it, then, maybe, there would be no more accidents. "Alright, now I want you to just try to break the window again, just the window."

Drake nodded and looked at the window, focused on it, tried to make it break. Nothing happened. "How come it won't break?"

"I'm not sure..." Braeden rubbed his hands though his hair, "Forget the window for a second. What did you do when you made the door move when I was talking to you before?"

Drake shrugged, "You said it was haunted, so me thought about a ghost moving it..." Even as he said this the door moved, not much, but did move and there was no wind.

Braeden pointed to it, "You are doing it again. What is different?"

The door suddenly stopped moving, "What do you mean?"

"I mean nothing happened when you tried to break the window but you moved the door with very little help from me. What changed?"

"Nothin' me just pretended there was a ghost there."

Braeden chewed on the left side of his lip on the inside of his mouth making is whole face twist a little. "OK, this can't be this hard to figure out. We know you can do it, so why can't you break a stupid window when you can break door frames and launch huge metal drums...." He let out a large sigh. When the metal cans moved, "what did you think about?"

"You said they jumped so me thought about a ghost putin' big spring on the bottom of 'em."

"A ghost again..." An idea started to form in Braeden's mind. "Drake, make the ghost punch the window!"

Drake tuned and looked at the window and a moment later it blew inward as it shattered.

"Perfect! Have the ghost pick up the two big cans and slam them together!"

Drake once again turned and made a small movement with his hands as he imagined a much larger ghost picking up the huge drums and smashing them together. This time the old metal drums moved up smooth to about six feet off the ground and smashed together with enough force to all but flatten them.

"Awesome!" Braeden grinned in triumph. "OK, now we need to practice on picking up and moving small things, like sticks and stuff."

"My head is startin' to hurt and me's getting kind of tired Bray."

"Oh, crap!" Braeden moved over and wrapped his hands around Drake, "I'm sorry... I just got so excited..."

Drake grinned, but still yawned. "You got me to really do it. Me just have to make ghosts!"

"Yes you can, and when you are ready again, we'll make the ghost move small things so you don't break everything. But you have to make sure you tell me when you are getting tired. I don't want you hurt or you hurting yourself. OK?"

Drake nodded slowly as he lightly rubbed his temples, "OK, Bray, but can we get something to drink?"

Braeden picked up Drake and carried the weakened boy to the Jeep and buckled him in. "The first place we come to we'll get some soda or something, plus anything else you want. You deserve it!"

Only fifty or so miles up the road, Avery sat silently for almost half an hour, watching the scenery go by while eating and drinking everything Cinder had bought in the gas station. The time spent wrapped in the blanket had taken a lot out of him and he was just happy to be dressed in cargo shorts, a short sleeved shirt and a windbreaker. Not having shoes was still bothering him, but there was nothing he could do about it and he was pretty sure Cinder was going to keep his word.

Still, it felt weird to be in his dad's truck without the boat attached and someone else driving. The only reason his dad bought the big diesel was to pull the boat. There was something he was certainly going to miss, the boat trips. As he thought it over, there really wasn't much else to miss. His dad was never really there, and when he was, he would get mad whenever Avery tried to show him anything. Sure the guy bought all the models and the stuff to decorate the room, but... Well Avery hated him and already missed him, it was all screwed up.

Looking in the back seat, and seeing the guy next to him had totally cleaned out the cash from the drug house was pretty scary too. No one just walked into a major drug house and cleaned it out, especially alone, and doubly especially without firing a single shot. Well, he fired one, but it wasn't even with his gun, and it had still been in the hands of the boss, so to Avery that shot didn't count. It didn't seem possible one person could have done what the guy next to him had. Of course it didn't seem possible to see a guy only an inch taller than him rip through three guards, including the boss guy's body guard, but he had seen it happen. He turned back around wondering how many people the guy next to him had killed.

As he saw the sign showing Tulsa was only twenty three miles away, he finally looked over. "So what is a Hell Hound."

Cinder sighed. He had hoped the kid next to him would forget about it, but he strongly suspected he wouldn't, so the question didn't come as a huge surprise. "You really want the truth?"

"Oh, come on..."

Cinder glanced over, "Look, I have taken others down this road and more than a few are no longer alive because of it. There are things the average person just should not know."

"I'm not average."

Cinder snickered, "No, no you're not. In fact, I don't think anyone has had the balls to stand up to me like you did back there." He let out a long breath, "OK, fine. I'll give you a basic rundown, but you have to open your mind up to the fact many of the things you have been taught from birth, such as there are no monsters under the bed, are simply not true. The world you see, the world you have been allowed to see, is only part of the whole. There is a separate, yet linked world. Those who know about it call this other world the spirit world; many of us have a nick name for it, we call it the unseen.

"The problem is the two worlds cannot fully exist without each other and so there are gray areas were the two meet. Sometimes something from one world crosses over in one of these grey areas. Long ago, it used to happen all the time, but the humans started to fight this, they saw everything coming through as a monster. The problem is some of those things were trying to protect humans from some of the others who wanted to hurt humans. I don't know exactly what happened or when, but at some point many of the human protectors and spirits who used to protect humans started pulling back. This left more bad things than good coming into our world. At the same time the spirits put up blocks, preventing most humans from getting easy access to the spirit world. By doing this, it has cut down on people going across and finding enough power to fight, and thus there are now fewer human protectors of humanity.

These human protectors, also known as Spirit Knights, are the greatest resource humans can throw into the fight against the unseen enemies of mankind. Each year, there are more deaths of Spirit Knights than there are new Spirit Knights to take their place. As their numbers continue to dwindle, the war between the virtuous and the malignant forces has slid more and more toward the malignant side and it is getting worse.

"The other problem is these blocks put up by the spirits to prevent humans into the Spirit world have had a bad effect since they don't do such a good job at keeping the spirits out of our world and since there are nowhere near as many guardians as their used to be, some of these spirit creatures both mindless and intelligent sneak into our world without even having to fight to do so.

"This leads directly to your question; one of the lowest and most frequent things to cross over is a beast called a Hell Hound. A Hell Hound is a Fire Spirit of an evil being gone wrong. It is a pit-bull-like beast, only no tail at all and a much thicker head and bigger mouth. It breathes fire and has ripples of flame over its hide. The only good thing about them is, they are bent on killing, thus very predictable and easy to kill."

Cinder glanced over, "I killed four of them and helped to kill a fifth early yesterday morning."

Avery's head jerked to look over at Cinder. He started to say 'do I really look stupid', but stopped just as the first words started to roll off his tongue. The guy's expression didn't match someone who was lying or trying to tease him. "Do... I mean, are you saying they are here... in our world today?"

"Yes. So is just about every other big nasty written about in legend and lore, plus a great deal more. Unless something changes for the better, humanity and those protecting humans will lose this war. But some will never stop fighting no matter how hopeless it looks. Now, my turn. How, exactly, did you come across something capable of making you believe in an unseen?"

Avery thought over Cinder's words for a few seconds. "OK, well, I guess you need to know I'm the bookworm type. Ever since I first got into school I loved history. I read every book, I went to the library and read all about Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Germanic Tribes, all of it. Not long before mom left, we went to Scotland and mom got me on an archeology dig. I was not quite ten and most of them thought it was a joke, but dad's money talked and mom pushed him so he agreed to finance part of the dig.

"With the offer of a hundred thousand in return for having me bothering them, it was not much of a debate. They let me join them. We were on our third week when we found something in a small mound. The entrance was so small I was the only one who could fit and by then they kind of trusted me. I think my mom would have killed them for letting me go in alone, since I had to crawl over fifty feet." Avery paused as a bit of a smile played across his lips, "I know because they had to go get another rope and tie it to the end they were holding to drag me out in case of problems. They even argued about it, but I told them I wasn't coming out until I got to the end and they really didn't want to drag me so they tied on another rope."

"Stubborn." Cinder stated, "Just plain fucking stubborn. I'm beginning to like you." He reached over and ruffled the boy's hair. "So you kept crawling?"

"Yeah, quite a ways, too. But suddenly the passage turned and I could see a flicker of a fire in a much larger room. Thinking they were playing a trick on me, I moved in and stood up. That is when I knew it was not a trick. There was no other way in. There was a passage on the far side, but it had collapsed and there was the skeletal body sticking out and it had what looked like a couple of huge teeth looking things sticking out of its chest. The flame flared and some weird wall of air knocked me to the ground.

"I almost ran to the exit to crawl out, but then I saw the writing on the walls. It was in Archaic Irish, the first known written language of Goidelic languages. I couldn't read it all, but what I could read talked about a great battle with the God Odin coming down and helping a warlordby the name of Ariovistus. The battle was a massive one saying two score by a thousand died, but it led to the destruction of a direct son of someone by the name of Kane and all his minions, but in the end Ariovistus was brought down by a huge pack of Beasts of Hel. It went on to describe almost exactly what you just told me a Hell Hound looks like, which is kind of freaky, by the way.

"But anyway, the last part said Odin and his kind honored Ariovistus by taking him into someplace called the Umbra."

Avery noticeable shuddered as he continued to speak. "The fire flared again as I struggled to read the recounting of the battle, only this time when I turned around there was a stone sticking up, a big one... Under where the stone had been was a bunch of gold coins, scrolls made of an animal hide, a long rusty blade, a ring and a necklace. As soon as I gathered up everything another stone popped up and under it was a very small ivory box. The fire then dimmed to a candle light. I came out and handed the scrolls and the blade over, but I pocketed the rest. It was really weird too, because it was late morning when I went in and it was almost dark when I came out, but I didn't seem like I was in there more than an hour or two. The guys in charge of the dig were so happy to see me come out alive, they never even thought to ask or check if I had anything else other than the sword and the scrolls. Besides, once they started looking at the sword they rushed around like it was the greatest find ever.

"The blade was an old Claymore, and it ended up having the name of a Celtic king carved on it so it was sold to someone for millions and the scrolls were studied and are now in museums all over the world, So I guess I kept the wrong things. Dad made a decent sum though. Most of his legal money came from his cut on the sword sale."

Avery glanced over and noticed Cinder was actually a bit pale. "Hey, mister, you OK?"

Cinder took in a couple of short deep breaths, "You said the battle killed a son of Kane. You are certain it actually said it killed a son of Kane?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Because... You may have found proof of the death of a vampire of incredible power, and if this is the case, it is very, very good news for those fighting the war against Vampires and the malignant forms coming from the spirit realms. There also may be clues on how to find some of the others."

"So vampires are real too?"

"Unfortunately, yes." Cinder let out a long breath and glanced over to Avery. "Do you have any idea how close you came to crossing over to the spirit world?"


"The flame... it was one of the protections set up by those in the spirit realms, to keep humans out... You were there and you all but touched it, and something from there saw enough in you to not totally push you out. I'm amazed you went unconscious when I changed."

Avery looked over with a totally bewildered look, "I was knocked out when you kicked me back and my head hit the couch. There is a knot on the back of my head and it still hurts like all get out."

Cinder snapped out of his near trance. "Oh, shit! We need to get you checked out by a doctor. You could have a concussion!"

"I think I'm fine. I'll let you know if I start getting tired and get weird headaches or something. OK?"

Cinder reached over and gently rubbed his hand over the back of Avery's head. Finding the knot and seeing the boy wince, he lightly poked around it for a few seconds. "OK, but you should not have been out for so long."

"Yeah, well the weird dreams of a ghost-like golden eagle wrapping its wings around me while a white tiger kept leaping at a circling scorpion with black goo coming off its claws was something I could do without again. Even after the tiger finally ripped it apart, the feathers of the eagle kept me held in place. I guess being wrapped in the blanket was a bit too much for my mind or something."

"No, actually I think you have been spirit touched and my shift to defend you caught the attention of both virtuous and the malignant forces. What you describe is a spirit battle. Since you were only seeing a ghost form, you were not really there, but the golden eagle still felt the need to shield you since you could see what most people cannot. Like it or not, you are already part of the unseen war."

"How come I have never seen anything like this before today, then?" Avery countered, "I mean I was on the dig almost three years ago!"

"Because, you haven't directly encountered an unseen again until today. Now, however, you need to learn how to fight because the unseen will know you when they get close enough. Could you tell someone else where this mound you entered is?"

"Yeah, but I don't think it'll do them any good. I know they tried to excavate a bit more last year and a guy was killed, so they shut it down."

"It doesn't matter. I have contacts who can." Cinder stated as he reached in the back, grabbed his battle vest and pulled out a second cell phone. "You are sure you can tell someone else, over a phone, where to find this place, right?"

"Yeah." Avery fired back, clearly annoyed. "You make this sound like it is huge deal!"

"It is." The tone alone was enough for Avery to slide a bit further away.

"OK, yes, I can tell them exactly where."

"Good." Cinder quickly entered a number. The second he got a tone Cinder spoke. "Gale Eagle it's Shadow Sabre, call me back at this number." He hung up and glanced over with a bit of a smile. "Right now there is someone in the command center who has his or her jaw down around his ankles. I never call."

"Who'd you call?"

"A network... and look, Avery, I am going to set the stage for this then you will have to tell the individual what you just told me, but do both you and me a huge favor. Don't tell them you stole from the crypt. Tell them about the sword and the scrolls, but not the rest. I am NOT telling you to lie, just..." He let out a deep breath. "Let's just leave it at there are things better left unsaid."

"Sure. It's not like it matters. I think you just burned up the coins, the ring, the amulet ,and the ivory box."

"There was a weird necklace and ring in your dad's safe. It was in a box mixed in with the gold coins. I didn't really do more than look."

Avery's eyes went wide and his voice became full of hope. "Did you grab it? The Ivory box is in there too!"

"Yeah, it is back there in a dark brown box with a silver latch on it. You can have it back since it seems very important to you. It should be right behind you..."

Avery felt his heart skip a beat as the words sank in. His best memory ever was not lost and his dad wouldn't be able to sell it! Excitement rippled though his whole body as he hit the seatbelt release and made a lunge to all but dive into the back of the truck cab.

Before Avery even moved Cinder's nose picked up the change in scent. The boy was thrilled. This gave Cinder advance notice and he was able to react even as Avery's mind was still processing the news.

Cinder growled as his right arm shot out and slammed Avery back into the seat with enough force to cause a couple of tears to appear in Avery's eyes. "It ain't going anywhere. Seat belt stays on until we stop. Once we are safely parked, you can dig for it when I go in and to get you shoes. I am not going to risk you getting hurt over some trinket.

"Just make sure you don't let anyone see all the cash and guns back there when you do dig, and your hands stay off the guns. If you want to learn to shoot, I'll teach you before you go to boarding school, but touching a gun without my permission or when I am not around is a second way to ensure a serious ass beating."

Avery quickly turned and pushed the seatbelt end back into the receptacle while eyeing the guy with more than a little fear. He kind of figured the man was strong, but until this instant he had no idea just how strong. The guy's arm had the consistency of chiseled stone as it kept him firmly planted in the seat. It was kind of weird, for even as much as it hurt, he found himself respecting the man a bit more, since the guy had allowed him to say what he had. Another thing dawned on Avery as well. This guy could easily manhandle him and a spanking would hurt like all get out. "Hey, you don't need to threaten me. You could just say don't do whatever it is I'm not supposed to do."

"Boy, you are way too much like me when I was twelve, so, yeah, I think I do. But I trust you are also smart enough to know I am not kidding."

"Yeah, maybe, but did the guy telling you what to do just kill three people in front of you and take out your dad?"


"Then I'm not quite in the same boat as you were in." Avery grumbled. He bounced back quickly however. "So, there are all these nasty things coming in, why don't we ever hear about it?"

"Because, those who do know don't want a mass panic. A panic would all but start a feeding frenzy, as the less intelligent and non intelligent beasts within the spirit realms would be drawn to such an event like moths to a flame."

Before Cinder could say more his throwaway phone rang. He answered and spoke. "This is Shadow Sabre."

Avery frowned as he watched and listened. After a few seconds the man let out a deep breath and started speaking again. "Yeah, I know I bypassed protocols and called the center directly, but I think it is just this important Gale Eagle, and you know I don't give a rat's ass about protocol and I have never once done this so just shut up and listen for a second."

Avery cringed as he heard the female voice on the other end rip into the man for his rude, uncouth, obnoxious, and insubordinate attitude. Avery couldn't help but grin as he found himself totally agreeing with the woman.

Finally, the man next to him found an opening and spoke, clearly not caring he was stepping on whoever was screaming at him, "Gale Eagle, send a fucking report to my Sept; I don't give a shit. Right now, I have a young man next to me who has vital information and you need to get someone or something out there to check on it. And, before you say it, the answer is yes, I am willing to take censorship if I am wrong, it wouldn't be the first time I was censored, this would just be a new level for me."

Avery found his eyebrows arching as the voice on the other end seemed to calm a great deal. He also guessed, correctly the man next to him was sticking his neck out on what he had heard. Lastly, he realized the way the guy had treated him to this point was not done out of malice, the guy really was an asshole to everyone and he really did know it and didn't care. Avery hoped what he had to say was really this important while wondering what agency the man belonged to. It was almost like he had stepped into some spy movie. For the first time since he had entered the mound, he was finding himself excited about something.

His train of thought was interrupted as the man shoved the phone into his face. "Avery this is Gale Eagle and she is waiting to hear what you have to say. Don't hold anything important," the word important had a slight emphasis to it, "back. Answer her questions then see if she wants to talk to me again."

Cinder let out a deep breath as he heard the boy recount the whole story again. Even though he had heard it all, he still found a tingling of excitement. Avery continued to talk and answer questions well after he had entered the outskirts of Tulsa. Finding a shoe store he pulled into the lot and parked, letting Avery talk.

After nearly twenty more minutes Avery handed the phone back, "She want to speak to you."

Cinder grabbed the phone. "It's Cinder again." He glanced over to Avery as he listened. "Yeah, I totally agree. But he is in danger and Joplin is not a good place to keep him. I need a boarding school and a contact for him so he can get a hold of me when and if needed."

Cinder shook his head at the response. "Once again, I concur, but unfortunately no, he has zero combat skills. On the other hand he's got some serious guts. He even called me an asshole to my face."

This time Cinder burst out laughing as he listened and reached over and patted Avery on the shoulder. "I know he is not alone in those views, and yeah, I can see why a spirit could see great potential in him."

This time he turned a bit pale. "Me, no... I... Yes, he needs to learn how to fight first, and I can help but no... What about Razor Wolf and his Pack."

Finally he hung up the phone and glanced over. "So how would you like to live with some werewolves for a few months while we teach you how to fight?"

Seeing Avery's jaw fall and eyes bug out, he snickered. "Yes, werewolves are real too. Why don't I just carry you into the store so we can find you some shoes you like while you think it over?"

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