“We are nosey as fuck,” Ava said. “You know this about us.”
Nelson looked out the window of Ava’s office for a long moment before nodding.
“Okay,” Nelson said. “My father’s family were weapons’ masters. Blacksmiths, mostly. My father makes modern weapons. He trained me as a blacksmith. And…”
“My mother was born to the historical ruling group of the Templars,” Nelson said. “I… I… I didn’t know my mother or really any of this until the last year or so. My father kept me away from all of it. And…”
Nelson looked around the table before looking down at his salad.
“Here it is,” Nelson said, nodding to himself. “There is a legend that the Templars have a stash of gold, statues, fine art… riches.” He made circles with his hands. “Stuff. Stolen stuff — mostly from Muslim travelers, some gifts from wealthy patrons, some pilfering of from the Holy Roman See, that’s not to mention pillaging religious sites. I found out last night that some was stolen from actual mythological characters. Who knew?”
Nelson shook his head. He felt instantly tired and over burdened. Looking at his friends, he knew they expected him to continue. So he did.
“The loot was supposed to be set aside by Bernard of Clairvau. Himself. Bernard was said to have had his own private hoard of treasure which he hid for some future male heir. He was also said to be Bernard the pure, but he had a child. A girl. She and her carefully selected husband became the heads of the Templars.
“So here’s the thing — only a male heir of Bernard can get to the hoard. No one knows why this is. It is what it is. The Templars did not disappear and were not hung or destroyed. They continue to live their lives and run their stupid order in rural southern France. My father’s father was the weapons master as was his father and so on. My mother’s father and his father’s father, etc., ran the Templar organization. My parents were not to wed or even date. My father is not in a high enough position in the order to even know my mother. But they did and the result of that union was me.
Nelson brought his lunch into his boss Ava O’Malley’s office where the rest of his co-workers were eating lunch. Bob Parrish partially stood up when Nelson came in. The elderly man grabbed another chair and stuck it under the table for Nelson. Coroner Dr. Joan Quincy shifted over to give Nelson some space. Leslie McClintock nodded to Nelson as he sat down. Fran DeKay, the designated “lab Mom,” smiled at Nelson and scooted the salt over in his direction. Ava was sitting at her desk when Nelson came into the room. She got up, grabbed her lunch, and joined the team at the table.
For the next few minutes, no one said anything while they dug into their lunches. Nelson unpacked his salad including two muffins. He set one in front of Dr. Quincy.
“Oat bran,” Nelson said. “Cinnamon. They’re your favorite.”
“Yes, they are,” Dr. Quincy said. “Thanks.”
“My pleasure,” Nelson said. “Blane made them for you to support your recovery.”
Dr. Quincy was fighting colon cancer.
“Send him my love,” Dr. Quincy said with a nod.
They fell silent again. Nelson cleared his throat.
“I’m in a… uh… situation,” Nelson said.
Everyone around the table looked up at him.
“Go on,” Fran said.
“I… well…” Nelson nodded. “You probably know, but maybe you don’t, and…”
“Spit it out, son,” Bob said. “We can handle it.”
Nelson looked at Bob before nodding.
“Okay,” Nelson said. “My father and mother were, well, are, but my mom’s dead, and…”
“Your parents were in the Templars,” Leslie said. “Or more accurately, your father is a Templar. We know all about it.”
“Oh,” Nelson said. “Why? How?”
“Seth told me,” Ava said. “He knows your father from Lockheed Martin. Your father told him. Seth told me. I told everyone when you missed work when your father was in the hospital.”
“The appearance of your father,” Fran said. “That’s what surprised me.”
“And me,” Dr. Quincy said. “I didn’t know that your father was living.”
“I didn’t either,” Leslie said.
“You know what surprised me?” Bob asked. “Carlos the Jackal. That’s what surprised me. I know that…”
Bob looked around the table. Fran gave him a shake of her head.
“We will do everything in our power, but there are areas we cannot help,” Abi said.
Nyx hissed a word that Nelson thought might be “Catholic.”
“We are not completely sure what we will face,” Abi finished her statement.
“You must pick a female,” Nyx said. “Human. Only a human can open this hoard. Only you with female support.”
“Why?” Nelson asked.
“We will share this when our group is formed,” Nyx said. “Committed. And we have agreement among all parties.”
“I need to think,” Nelson said. “I need to find my warrior. And…”
Nelson sighed and shook his head. He turned to Heather.
“In his current condition, will my father be able to help?” Nelson asked.
“I’m sorry, no,” Heather said.
“Can I access to his records?” Nelson asked. “Computer. Files. Books.”
“Of course,” Nyx said.
“Do any of you know where this mystical hoard is located?” Nelson asked.
“No,” Nyx said. “But we will find it. We have the ability to find it now. We are unable to do it.”
“Why not?” Nelson asked.
“When you are ready, we will be ready,” Nyx said. “Are you ready?”
Nelson didn’t say anything for a long moment. He shook his head.
“We will give you time to think,” Nyx said.
“Not much time,” Heather said.
“Every moment we linger, we risk destruction,” Nyx said.
“Destruction?” Nelson asked.
“Of the sun,” Hecate said at the same time Heather said, “Everything.”
“We are trying to say that we must act soon,” Abi said.
“The object that has polluted your father,” Heather said.
“We will explain everything when our group is formed and committed,” Nyx said.
Sighing, Nelson nodded. He looked around the room. When he looked back at Nyx, she reached out to touch him.
The next thing he knew, it was morning and he was late to work. He was in the shower before he remembered his weird visitation last night. He was walking out of the carriage house when he saw Heather standing at the end of the path.
“Did that really happen?” Nelson asked.
“What?” Heather asked.
“Quest for the Templar treasure,” Nelson said. He leaned toward her, “Nyx.”
“Yes,” Heather said. “We need to open the hoard.”
“How much time do we have?” Nelson asked.
“Time,” Heather shrugged. “Less than we want, more than we need.”
“That’s clear,” Nelson said.
“Nothing happens unless you agree to go,” Heather said. “So think fast. At the very least, your father’s life depends on it.”
Nelson gave Heather a nod and walked to the bus stop. When he turned to look for her, she was gone. Shaking his head, he got on the Colfax 15 and headed to work.
“As hard as it might be to imagine,” Nyx’s voice was now as seductive as the shadow, “we need your assistance.”
“You need my…” Nelson turned to look at Heather. “What?”
“Remember our plan?” Heather asked.
“Yes,” Nelson said.
Heather nodded her head to Nyx.
“Oh,” Nelson said. “I see.”
A gasp went through the room. As if someone turned on a spot light, the shadow dissipated. Abi and Aphrodite were standing in the room. Nyx and Hecate dropped to their knees. Heather lowered her head.
“Mother,” Nyx said.
Abi waved Nyx and Hecate on to their feet. Hecate hopped off Nelson’s bed.
“Now that my room is filled with Goddesses,” Nelson said. “I wonder if I might I get dressed before we discuss why you’re here?”
“Of course,” Abi said.
Much to Nelson’s surprise, his room was immediately empty. He slipped out of bed and went into his bathroom. He slept naked so he put on boxer briefs, pajama bottoms and grabbed a long-sleeve shirt. He started toward the living room of his carriage house.
Standing in the doorway of his living room, he saw the shadow called Nyx holding both of Abi’s hands. They were speaking softly. It was clear that a great fondness went between these two powerful beings.
“Can I bring anyone anything?” Nelson asked.
The Goddesses turned toward him.
“Tea?” Nelson asked.
“My friend Hades was telling me about some biscuits that are made by you humans?” Nyx asked.
“As you wish,” Nelson said.
“I’ll help,” Heather said.
They went into the kitchen of the carriage house. Heather started a pot of tea while Nelson took down a tin of cookies that he’d made with the kids at the Castle.
“I have chocolates,” Nelson said. “Do Titans like chocolate?”
“Good question,” Heather said.
They worked for a few minutes in silence.
“Can you give me a clue as to what’s going on?” Nelson asked.
“Turns out my grandmother knows what polluted your father,” Heather said.
“What?” Nelson asked.
“Nothing I’ve ever heard of,” Heather said. “Nyx is here to explain it to us.”
Nelson nodded. He finished putting the cookies onto a plate at the same time the electric kettle finished. Heather poured the hot water over the tea in the pots. She nodded to Nelson and he carried a tray with cookies and the tea pots out into his living room. Heather followed with tea cups.
Nelson set the tray down on the coffee table in front of where Aphrodite had settled Nyx. When he looked up, he saw the most magnificent creature he’d ever seen in his entire life. She was beautiful, dark skinned with long dreadlocks and… The woman-like vision slipped back into shadow. Nelson realized that, by witnessing her being, he’d been given a precious gift. He lowered his head in thanks.
“My dear friend, Nyx, has been in hiding,” Abi said. “She was unaware that it was safe for her and other Titans to come out.”
“And yet, I know her like I know the contours of my own heart,” Nelson said.
For the briefest of moments, he saw Abi shook him a grateful smile. When he looked again, Abi’s face was neutral and calm.
“She has come to help us,” Abi said.
“Please, pardon my informality,” Nelson said. “I am not sure what the protocol is to addressing Titans and Goddesses and it’s 3 in the morning!”
“You may continue,” Abi said.
Nelson looked up at her. He’d seen Abi dancing around the Castle with two infants in her arms. He’d seen her laugh and talk as if she were human. In this moment, he realized that she was the most powerful being in this room, possibly the most powerful being in any room. He took a breath and gave a nod.