Previous month:
November 2019
Next month:
January 2020

December 2019

Chapter Six Hundred and Three: The Dragon and the Knight

SIX HUNDRED and THREE

“This is Max’s jeep,” Nelson said.

“So he thinks,” Alex said with a laugh.

After dinner, Blane had dropped Nelson off at Alex’s home. They had walked through the backyard to the garage. Alex got into the driver’s seat of a Jeep CJ. Nelson got into the passenger seat.

“But. . .” Nelson said.

“It’s both of ours,” Alex said. “We share it. But we don’t drive it very often now because of the kids.”

Alex gave him a wide smile and started the Jeep. The Jeep started right up and they were on their way.

“Where are we going?” Nelson asked.

“My friend’s expecting us,” Alex said.

“How?” Nelson asked.

“I called her from the restaurant,” Alex said.

Nelson nodded and looked away. He was suddenly nervous. At dinner, he’d become comfortable with Alex and this entire ridiculous project. His heart was racing now. He wished he had never said he was going to find this stupid ‘treasure.’ He scowled as Denver flew by in front of him. Alex pulled up to a house.

“Come on,” Alex said. “It won’t be too bad. Plus, if anything goes wrong, your fairy bulldog will appear to save you.”

Alex laughed and got out of the vehicle. Nelson shook his head and got out of the Jeep. He followed her through a private front garden to a large home with a wide open porch. The porch was furnished as if it was a room in the home. Alex knocked on the door.

A tall thin bald man with tan skin opened the door. He looked at Alex and then at Nelson. He said something to Alex in a language Nelson didn’t understand. Alex argued back. The arguing got heated as the man gestured to Nelson. Alex’s words came fast and furiously. Finally, the man gestured to the couch on the porch. Alex relented.

“We need to stay out here,” Alex said.

“Why?” Nelson asked. “Is there something about me. . .?”

“Yes,” Alex said.

Shaking her head, Alex went to sit down.

“Is it too cold for you?” Alex asked.

“I’m okay,” Nelson said. “What’s wrong with me?”

“You’re a Templar,” Alex said.

“I am a dragon,” a woman said as she stepped out of the house. “You are a Knight.”

Two men came out of the house behind her. They dragged Nelson to his feet and searched him head to toe. They started to remove his clothing when Alex stepped in.

“I don’t know what this means,” Nelson said, angrily grabbing his shirt from the body guard.

“You are a Knight of the Templars?” The woman raised her eyebrows at Nelson.

The moment her eyes hit Nelson, he felt his entire body tingle. His head spasmed with pain. At the same time, he felt a bright energy flood his mind. Power pulsed through him. He was terrified and thrilled at the same time. His heart raced and his muscles pumped with blood. He felt taller and stronger. For the first time in his life, he felt whole.

“Whoa,” Alex said.

Mari appeared on the porch. She took one look at the woman and sucked in a breath. She moved to get in front of Nelson but seemed suddenly unable to move.

“Please,” Mari said. “He is a good human, kind, and funny. You will like him.”

The woman sighed slightly. The pulse of power flowed out of Nelson. He let out a breath and collapsed onto the couch. His head dropped into his hands while he tried to calm down. When he looked up, he saw a gorgeous tan skinned woman with almond shaped eyes and long black hair.

“I am Bestat,” the woman said.

“Nelson Weeks,” he said. “I was born Guy Semaines.”

“I knew this day would come, Mr. Weeks,” Bestat said.

“Doctor,” Nelson said. “Dr. Weeks.”

The woman grinned.

“I have known about you since the day you were born,” Bestat said.

“You have?” Nelson asked. “Why?

“Because you are the single male heir of that bastard, the one the call Bernard of Clairvaux,” Bestat said. “Are you not?”

“They stole something from you too?” Nelson asked.

Bestat laughed and nodded.

“Aren’t dragons always drawn to gold and jewels?” Nelson asked.

“Lazy dragons lie on treasure?” Bestat asked. “As in the Hobbit?”

Nelson nodded and looked up at her. Bestat smiled at him.

“Humans are the first creatures to trade objects for treasure,” Bestat said. She nodded to Mari. “Isn’t that true, Princess Marigold?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Mari said.

“Please do get up,” Bestat said to Mari.

“Dragons love to eat fairies,” Mari said. “I would not wish to be eaten.”

“Even you must agree that fairies can be incredibly annoying,” Bestat said. “Almost every creature on earth has wanted to destroy a fairy at one time or another.”

“I have.” Nelson raised his hand. “They tried to kill me and Blane and the kids.”

“My point,” Bestat said. “I have no quarrel with you, Princess Marigold.”

“Mari, please.” the fairy said as she got up. She went to sit next to Nelson on the couch. “I was charged by the mother to guard and protect this human.”

“You may continue in my presence,” Bestat said.

“Thank you, my lady,” Mari said.

“Bestat,” she said. “Everyone calls me, Bestat.”

A child came out onto the porch. She looked like her mother except for her shocking blue eyes.

“Teddy,” Nelson said under his breath.

“Yes,” Bestat said. “My partner is Teddy’s father. Does that surprise you?”

“At this moment, nothing would surprise me,” Nelson said.

“Teddy is inside,” Bestat said. “Would you like to see him?”

“It seems like we have a lot to discuss,” Alex said.

“You are correct,” Bestat said. “But first, I fear that I must make this point. Dragons have been on this plantet for millennia before humans were introduced,” Bestat said. “If we longed for treasure, we could have stolen it from every corner of the world long before the first human made a step.”

“You don’t love treasure?” Nelson asked.

“Don’t get me wrong, Templar,” Bestat said. “I like nice things. I like being able to pay for them. But no dragon I have known has ever lay around on some hoard of gold and jewels. We work for what we have. That is the law of this planet — what you give out will come back to you.”

Alex nodded.

“You know this,” Bestat said.

“What do you do?” Nelson asked.

“This and that,” Bestat said. “That is hardly the point.”

“Do you know where the hoard is located?” Nelson asked.

“Not specifically,” Bestat said. “Do you have maps?”

“I have some,” Nelson said. “My father has some.”

“Ben gave me all of his historic maps,” Alex said.

“Good,” Bestat said. “Fairy?”

“Mari, please,” she said.

“Mari,” Bestat said. “I forgot. Would you be so kind as to get the maps and bring them to us?”

Mari looked at Nelson and he nodded.

“Your father and. . .?” Mari asked.

“Mine,” Nelson said.

“Mine,” Alex added. “There’s also a stack of old maps from the salt mine.”

Mari looked at Alex and then at Bestat.

“I would be honored,” Mari said and disappeared.

“Let’s go inside,” Bestat said. “We will have tea while we wait.”

Nelson followed Alex and Mari into Bestat’s home. He was surprised at how modern it seemed. A female servant looked Nelson over before gesturing for him to go into a room. The female servant gave him what seemed to be a soft silken robe.

“For your protection, Knight,” the servant said.

“Thank you,” Nelson said.

When he returned to the room, Mari had returned. Two servants were working to unfold the maps onto a large table. Teddy appeared from a bedroom upstairs. He agreed to match the ancient maps to modern Internet mapping services.

Nelson sat down next to Alex.

“When we were outside and you said ‘whoa,’” Nelson said in a low voice. “What happened?”

“You started to glow,” Alex said in the same tone.

Nelson looked away.

“There’s a lot of lore about the Knights Templar,” Alex said. “I think you have to realize that magic is in your blood.”

“Like Gandolf?” Nelson asked.

Alex shrugged. Nelson shook his head at the entire thing.

“We are ready,” Bestat said. “Alex? Nelson? Shall we take a look at these maps?”

Nelson and Alex got up and went to the table. Within minutes, Alex and Bestat were deep in conversation about the maps itself. Hours passed. Eventually, Nelson went back to the couch and fell sound asleep. He woke up in his own bed when his alarm signaled that he had to get up for work.

Nelson was halfway through his morning routine when he remembered his evening and night. He looked around. He had no idea how he’d gotten home. He expected to see Heather or one of the other Goddesses when he left his home.

No one was waiting for him.

Shrugging to himself, he went to work. He had one thing on his mind — he needed to speak with his father. He waited until lunch time before calling Pierre to ask him to dinner. Pierre seemed thrilled at the idea of seeing his son. Nelson invited his father to his home for a meal.

After work, Nelson stopped at a local butcher shop and picked up steak for them to share. When he reached home, he found Blane waiting for him.

“Dad’s coming over for dinner,” Nelson said.

Blane held out his hands for the grocery bags. He looked inside the bag and laughed.

“Steak?” Blane asked.

“I can barbecue a steak for my father,” Nelson said defiantly.

When he grinned, Blane laughed. Blane nodded toward the front door. Nelson opened the door, and Blane went into the kitchen.

“Go change,” Blane said.

Nodding to Blane, Nelson went to change out of his work clothing. By the time he’d returned, the kitchen smelled amazing. Blane poured him a glass of wine and gestured for Nelson to sit at the bar stool.

“I just wanted to check in with you to see how last night turned out,” Blane said.

“How it turned out?” Nelson asked with a laugh. “Weird. We went to Alex’s friend’s house and. . . Actually, I’m not sure how much I should tell you. Do you know Teddy’s step-mother?”

“Bestat?” Blane asked. “She was a part of that big rape case.”

“She was?” Nelson asked.

“Noelle was painting her in City Park when they were set upon by the thugs,” Blane said. He pointed a spatula at Nelson. “She won the case for the victims. All the rest were kids or runaways. But here’s this elegant woman, a diplomat no less, talking about what happened. The entire courtroom was enthralled.”

“I bet,” Nelson said.

“Alex said that she wanted to take a friend,” Blane said. “Was her friend Bestat?”

Nelson nodded.

“When we were at dinner, Nyx came,” Nelson said.

“When you were standing?” Blane asked looking up from what he was preparing.

Nelson nodded.

“She said that Alex and Bestat could come,” Nelson said. “After dinner, we went to Bestat’s house. It was kind of a lot of drama but in the end, Bestat and Alex talked about maps until. . . well I don’t know how long. I woke up here.”

Blane nodded.

“Why are you talking to your father tonight?” Blane asked.

“I have it in my head that talking to him is the final act before I go on this ‘quest,’” Nelson said. He snorted. “Like I’m some freakin’ knight going on a quest for his queen and country.”

Blane smiled at Nelson and kept cooking.

“What was ‘a lot of drama’ about meeting Bestat?” Blane asked.

“I don’t really know,” Nelson said. “It’s kind of weird but. . .”

He took another drink of wine.

“But?” Blane asked.

“I. . .” Nelson sighed. “I’ll just tell you how I experienced it.”

Nelson looked Blane in the eye.

“Don’t laugh,” Nelson said.

“I won’t laugh,” Blane said.

“Okay, so. . .” Nelson started. “It’s just that. . .”

He sighed.

“When she looked at me, something happened,” Nelson said.

“Something?” Blane rose his eyebrows.

“Not like that,” Nelson said. “She said that she was a. . .”

Nelson leaned forward.

“A dragon,” Nelson said. Blane gave a knowing nod. “And I was a knight. Then this thing happened. I felt. . . bigger, taller, stronger. Alex said I kind of glowed. I. . .”

Nelson shook his head.

“I felt whole,” Nelson said. “Completely whole and completely a knight. It was. . . exhilarating and terrifying. I. . . Well, today, I realized that my pants are a little short and. . .”

“You actually grew taller,” Blane said.

Nelson nodded.

“Bigger,” Nelson said. “My mind today was like ‘boom, boom, boom.’ Like I was hooked up to some brain juice or. . .”

Nelson shook his head.

“I don’t know,” Nelson said. “I want to feel that way again, and. . .”

“Sounds scary to me,” Blane said.

Nelson nodded.

“I think we’re going to be leaving soon,” Nelson said. “I don’t know when.”

“It’s not your question,” Blane said. “You’re likely to go when the moon is right or whatever else.”

“New moon,” Nelson said, softly. “I bet you’re right.”

“When is the next new moon?” Blane asked.

“Tonight,” Nelson said.

Blane gave Nelson a soft smile.

“I’ll give you the speech that I’ve heard Sam give Jake more than once,” Blane said. “Don’t take unnecessary risks. Coming home is more important than fulfilling any project or question. Just come home to us.”

Blane nodded.

“Thanks, I think,” Nelson said. “I just don’t feel. . . ready.”

“No one’s ever ready,” Blane said. “You just have to do your best. That’s enough.”

Nelson nodded.

“Your dad’s going to be here in a few minutes,” Blane said. “I have some marinated mushrooms for the top of the steak. You just need to warm them up. The steak is in a light marinade, the one you like. There’s salad in the refrigerator. Some of last summer’s delicata squash is in the oven. Can you put all this together?”

“You’re not staying?” Nelson asked.

“I think that you’re right,” Blane said. “You need to speak with your father and then you’ll head out.”

Nelson grabbed Blane and hugged him tight.

“Heather will be there with you,” Blane said. “You have to remember — you and Alex are the only mortals on this quest. There’s no reason for you to risk when they are immortal.”

Nelson nodded.

“I’ll be here with Tres holding down the fort,” Blane said.

Nelson grinned. Blane kissed Nelson’s cheek.

“Good luck,” Blane said. “Come home.”

With that, Blane walked out of the carriage house. He’d just crossed the street when he saw Pierre’s car pull up to the curb. Smiling to himself, he went inside the Castle.

“How is he?” Heather asked.

“Scared,” Blane said. “Excited.”

“He should be,” Heather said.

“You’re leaving tonight?” Blane asked.

“I’m not sure,” Heather said. “I’m just support staff. I’m not running this thing.”

Blane nodded. They hugged each other for support in their worry for their friend.

“I need to get dinner started,” Blane said.

Heather nodded and Blane walked into the kitchen. By the time dinner was ready, Heather was gone.

The quest had begun.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Two: Dinner with Alex and John

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and TWO

Monday evening — 5:58 p.m.

“So they. . .” Nelson said.

Blane turned off the car and looked at Nelson.

“Well, Leslie found these websites that postulate where people, who claim to be experts, believe the hoard might be located,” Nelson said. “She made some connections with a couple of old guys who have been studying this stuff all their lives.”

“Are they Templars?” Blane asked.

“No,” Nelson said. “They told her that they were descendants. Before you ask, they are not.”

Blane nodded.

“Anyway, I thought maybe tonight we could go over what she found,” Nelson said. “She said that if I’m the ‘chosen one’ then I should know intuitively which site is right. I tried it at the lab and. . .”

Nelson shrugged.

“Happy to help, if I can,” Blane said and got out of the vehicle.

Nelson met him at the back of the car.

“Are you sure about this?” Nelson asked.

“I’m happy to ‘introduce’ you to people you already know,” Blane said with a grin.

“This is so. . . public,” Nelson said.

They watched people stream in and out of Annie’s Restaurant.

“I’m not worried about being seen,” Blane said. “You?”

Nelson looked at him for a long moment. Blane pointed at him.

“You forgot,” Blane said.

Laughing, Nelson nodded. Nelson had loved Blane in secret for a long, long time. He still felt like they had to creep around. Blane held out his arm.

“Come on,” Blane said. He gestured to a two-seat luxury car. “They are already here.”

“Nice car,” Nelson nodded.

“They get all of their cars from a song at some drug dealer auction,” Blane said. “They can tell you all about it.”

Nelson nodded. They walked arm-in-arm into Annie’s. Despite the number of people milling around outside, there was surprisingly few people waiting. Blane told the person at the front that they were meeting “John and Alex.” She nodded, grabbed a few menus, and started toward the back of the restaurant.

“Isn’t this where Loki harassed Tres?” Nelson asked.

Blane looked back at Nelson and nodded. Nelson grinned. Blane discretely pointed to a char mark the size of a quarter on the wall.  

“Abi,” Blane said with a nod.

Nelson laughed. They followed the woman to a table. They approached a table where the man’s arm was around the other person’s shoulder. His face was hidden and he leaned toward to other person. Their faces were so close together that they could only see the man’s curly dark hair and the other person’s short brown hair.

Nelson put his hand on Blane’s arm to slow him down.

“They’re always like that,” Blane said. “If you wait, you’ll be here for a long time.”

He walked to the end of the table and said, “Hey.”

The man turned to look at Blane and the woman laughed. While the woman who’d led them there set down menus for Blane and Nelson, the man stood up.

“John Drayson!” Nelson said. “Oh my God! You’re John?”

Dr. John Drayson laughed. He held out his arms and hugged Nelson.

“I worked with this guy in the ER,” Nelson said to Blane who’d already sat down across from the woman.

Nelson took one look at the woman and his hand went to his heart.

“That’s impossible,” Nelson said under his breath.

The woman laughed and waved at Nelson.

“Please,” John said, gesturing Nelson toward where Blane was sitting.

Nelson slid into the bench next to Blane. He was too taken back to speak.

“This is my wife, Alex,” John said. “Alex Hargreaves meet Dr. Nelson Weeks. We used to work together at Denver Health. He works with Ava now at the Denver Crime Lab.”

“From the looks of things, you know, my twin, Max?” Alex asked, her face bright with laughter.

“Did you transition?” Nelson asked, leaning forward over the table.

“They are single zygotic male-female twins,” John said. “You know, Wyatt, right?”

“Klaussen? Twin expert?” Nelson asked.

“He’s Max’s partner,” John said.

“I was just thinking that I’ve got to tell Klaussen about this,” Nelson said with a laugh.

“He knows,” Alex said. “Trust me, he knows all about us.”

Nelson nodded. The waitress came to take their drink orders. When Nelson didn’t respond so Blane ordered for him.

“You okay?” Blane asked.

“Just surprised,” Nelson said. “A little embarrassed.”

Blane smiled.

“You should know that we are great at keeping state secrets and suck at keeping our friends secrets,” John said. “So before we do anything else, I must ask — does Heather know about the two of you?”

“Yes,” Blane said with a nod. “She’s the one who made everything happen.”

Nelson nodded in agreement.

“We are forming a larger family,” Nelson said. “Do you know Tres Sierra?”

“I do,” Alex said. “John knows him, too, but he doesn’t know that he knows him.”

John looked at her.

“From church,” Alex said. “Enrique’s brother?”

John’s face soured. After a moment, John said, “The CFO at Jake’s place.”

Alex nodded.

“He’s moving in with us,” Nelson said. “Tanesha and Jeraine, too. Jake says you guys have something similar.”

“We all live together,” John said. “The kids are raised together. My family is here from Ireland and Alex’s siblings live near us.”

Nelson pointed to John.

“Colin’s house is next to yours,” Nelson said. Nelson slapped his head. “Blane and I have dropped off Katy and Paddie a few times.”

“That’s us,” Alex said. “It’s pretty weird, when you think about it, but it works well.”

The waitress came back with drinks. Familiar with the menu, everyone ordered. The waitress went to put in their order.

“You wanted to ask me something,” Alex said to Nelson.

Nelson nodded.

“I. . . well, it sounds so strange,” Nelson started.

Nelson anxiously looked around the room. Blane took over.

“Have you heard of the lost hoard of the Templars?” Blane asked.

“Who hasn’t?” Alex asked with a laugh. John nodded.

“Nelson is the only male heir of Saint Bernard,” Blane continued.

“Of the Templars?” Alex asked. Her eyebrows shot up and her mouth widened in a grin. “Really?”

“Family legacy,” Blane said. He looked at Nelson but Nelson was still too anxious so Blane continued. “Nelson can tell you all about it, he’s just upset and anxious.”

“Why?” John asked. “What’s going on with you, Nelson?”

“I. . .” Nelson shrugged. “I’ve known about the treasure all of my life. I was never going to deal with it. Why bother? My father always said, but after Poland. . .”

“The mine,” John said.

Nelson nodded and continued, “It seems that there were other objects in that mine. Dark objects. Nazi black magic. Or whatever.”

“Did you know about this?” John asked.

Alex shook her head.

“I have a message that Seth wants to talk to me,” Alex said. “But I’ve been working.”

Alex shrugged.

“Seth and I often have things to talk about,” Alex said with a smile.

John nodded. She looked at Blane and Nelson.

“Seth is a part of a group that finds bodies and brings them home to their loved ones,” Alex said. “My team and I help them when we can. John and I have gone on trips to help find remains.”

John and Alex nodded.

“Please,” John said, “We interrupted.”

Blane glanced at Nelson and Nelson gestured for Blane to continue.

“Seth and the rest now think that the Nazis found out about the salt mine,” Blane continued. “When they came upon object that they could not control, they stuck them in the mine. One of those is dangerous to the world.”

“Dangerous to the world?” Alex asked.

“Heather told me that it can absorb the fuel of the sun,” Blane said. “Put out the light.”

“Whoa,” Alex and John said in near unison.

“I have always known that there’s an object in the hoard called the ‘Adam’s Apple,’” Nelson said. “It’s supposed to be a very large red ruby or something like it. It seems that it is the counter object to this sun killing thing. The two are neutralized if they are together. But the Templars stole the ruby and somehow the light extinguisher ended up with the Nazis.”

Nelson stopped talking. He waited a few minutes until Alex and John looked up at him again.

“I need to take a quest to this hoard,” Nelson said. “I am allowed one human warrior. Female. To protect me.”

Nelson’s mouth was instantly dry. He licked his lips and took a drink of his ice water.

“Ava said that you were the best person,” Nelson said nodding to Alex. “I. . . well, I thought I’d put the entire crazy thing out in front of you and see what you thought.”

“Who else is going?” Alex asked.

“I can’t tell you,” Nelson said. “I’m sorry. You have to agree to go first.”

“I see,” Alex said. “Can I bring someone myself?”

Nelson shot Alex an intense look.

“The person I’m thinking about would know about this kind of thing,” Alex said with a soft nod. “Plus, I made an agreement that I would never go into a situation by myself.”

Her eyes flicked to her husband’s. She added, “Again.”

“We recently had a situation where Alex was critically injured on a mission where she wend alone,” John said.

The two looked at each other. Alex laughed.

“I need to bring someone as back up,” Alex said. “My team’s great. You know Leena and Margaret?”

Nelson nodded.

“I’d take them anywhere,” Alex said. “I was just thinking of someone who might know about this whole thing.”

“I don’t actually know,” Nelson said, shaking his head. “I can ask.”

Their meals arrived. They settled into eating for a moment.

“You know,” Blane pointed at Alex, “she’s a cartographer.”

“I am,” Alex said with a nod.

“She draws maps for the government,” John said. “They save lives. She’s a true master.”

Alex waved away his compliment. John looked at Alex.

“You have any Templar maps?” John asked Alex. He looked back at Nelson and Blane. “We have a lot of old maps.”

“I don’t think so. Maybe,” Alex said. She pointed at him with a fork before shaking her head. “That’s a good question.”

Alex looked at Blane.

“I received a stack of historic maps from my bio dad,” Alex said. “Max and I have a different biological dad than Colin, Sam, and Erin. He’s Parisian French.”

“That’s why Max speaks French?” Nelson asked.

“We learned as kids,” Alex said. “French, Italian, Spanish, English. Max learned Arabic in college. I learned a few more in the military.”

“Why so many?” Nelson asked.

“They wanted to be Green Berets,” John said with a laugh.

“We did,” Alex said, with a grin. She looked at John. “What do you think?”

“He’s French. You’re French,” John said. “It’s a secret French order.”

John shrugged.

“Seems like a no brainer,” John said with a grin.

“It would take me away again,” Alex said.

John nodded.

“It would help a friend,” John said.

Alex nodded. She looked off into space. Waving her hand, she said, “Show me the maps.”

Nelson took a stack of folded pages from the back pocket of his jeans. He set it on the table. Alex unfolded the pages. Picking up a French fry from John’s plate, Alex ate and laid out the maps.

“This is. . .” Nelson said.

“I know where this is,” Alex said, cutting him off.

She looked at one page and shook her head. She looked at the next page and scowled. When she got to the last page, she looked up at Nelson.

“Where did you get these?” Alex asked.

“My colleague, Leslie. . .” Nelson said.

“I know Leslie. She’s brilliant,” Alex said. She pushed her plate aside and put the pages together. “I have this map. It’s old.”

“1100s?” Nelson asked.

“I have a copy of Mahmud al-Kashgari's Map from 1072,” Alex said. “Copy of Al-Idrisi's Tabula Rogeriana from 1154. Cheap reproductions. I have heard that the Templars drew their own maps, but I’ve never seen one. I don’t think that anyone has seen a Templar map.”

Alex raised her eyebrows to Nelson in question.

“I have,” Nelson said.

“I’ll offer you a trade,” Alex said. “You let me see your Templar maps and I’ll talk to the rest of your team.”

“I would happily give you all of those stupid maps,” Nelson said. “My father’s now the head of the order. I’d have to check with him, but if you’re helping me find this ridiculous treasure? I’m sure that he will be thrilled. You could name your price.”

“Even better,” Alex said.

She gave him a wide smile. She held out her hand.

“Deal?” Alex asked.

Nelson flushed. He shook her hand.

“Deal,” Nelson said. “But. . .”

The restaurant went dark. Nelson slid out of the booth. Before his feet had reached the floor, Alex had climbed over the table, pulled her weapon from her sacrum holster, and stood in front of Nelson. She moved side to side, checking the darkened room.

Wearing her full armor and carrying her sword, Mari appeared next to Alex. Mari sneered at Alex.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Alex said with a grin at Mari. “I’m protecting him.”

Alex gestured to Nelson.

“I protect him,” Mari said.

“Knock it off,” Nelson said first to Mari and then he nodded at Alex. “I need a human warrior.”

“And me,” Mari said. “You need me.”

Nelson groaned.

“Alex meet my fairy watch dog,” Nelson said.

Mari curtsied.

“Princess Marigold,” Mari said. “Nice to meet you, Alex Hargreaves. You know my sister, the Blue Fairy?”

“We’ve met,” Alex said with distaste.

“I’m not as annoying,” Mari said.

“Good to know,” Alex said. “Any idea why the lights went out?”

“We’re in another dimension,” Mari said.

“Where are the Goddesses?” Nelson asked.

“I put us in a time bubble,” Mari said. “I thought we might need a chat first.”

Alex gave Mari a thoughtful look and tucked her handgun back into her holder. She looked at Nelson.

“Goddesses?” Alex asked.

“Hecate, Nyx, Aphrodite,” Nelson said. “That’s not to mention Abi and Hecate.”

Alex blinked. The edges of the room seemed to soften. Instinctively, Alex pulled her weapon again. A female figure appeared.

“Nyx,” Alex said under her breath.

“How do you know me, child?” the Titan asked.

“My friend Bestat has a statue of you at her home in Alexandria,” Alex said. “She told me that it stood in one of your temples.”

Nyx looked at Alex for a long time.

“Bestat,” Nyx said. “How do you know her?”

“She is the partner of my oldest friend,” Alex said. “I was thinking of consulting her about this. . . uh. . . mission. Possibly bring her with us, if that’s all right with you.”

Nyx turned to Nelson.

“This is your human warrior?” Nyx asked.

“She is,” Nelson said.

“You may bring her,” Nyx said. “And her friend.”

Nyx turned to Mari.

“Abi tasked me with guarding Nelson,” Mari said.

“I know you, Princess Marigold,” Nyx said. “You are welcome. We may need your light in the end.”

The stubborn jewel popped off Mari’s sword. Nelson cursed. But Nyx simply held out her hand.

“Do you know what this is?” Nyx asked.

“A stupid jewel that won’t stay in place no matter what I try?” Nelson asked.

Nyx looked at Nelson and then grinned.

“It will never adhere to your sword,” Nyx said as her hands closed around the gem. “It is a compass.”

“To?” Mari asked.

“Exactly where we need to go,” Nyx said with a grin.

The lights came back on and they were standing in the restaurant again. Mari disappeared before the humans could notice her.

“Nelson?” Blane asked at the same time John said, “What’s going on?”

“Bathroom break,” Alex said with a grin.

She waved John out of the booth so that she could sit down. They settled into eating. After a few minutes, their conversation turned to their children. They were laughing in no time.

Denver Cereal continues next week...


Chapter Six Hundred and One: Beginning of a team

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and ONE

“How can I be of service?” Nelson asked.

“We need the Templar hoard,” Abi said.

“You. . . what?” Nelson asked. Shaking his head, he added, “What do you think that has to do with me?

“The object you call ‘Adam’s apple,’” Nyx said in her distinctive voice. “No one knows why you call it this. There was no Adam and he had no apple and. . .”

“Nyx,” Abi said.

“Makes me furious,” Nyx said.

“I know,” Abi said. “I understand. Please continue.”

Nyx was silent for a long moment.

“Nyx,” Abi said in low warning.

“Fine,” Nyx said. “The apple was taken. From me. By your ancestors — the filthy, disgusting, loathsome Templars. And now, because of other moronic humans, we need to find it.”

Nelson dropped into an empty armchair. He didn’t say anything for a long moment.

“You cannot find it,” Nyx said, softly, “without me.”

“Why?” Nelson asked.

“It belongs to me,” Nyx said, rage apparent in her voice. “It responds to me. You will need me to find it.”

“And me,” Aphrodite said.

“And me,” Hecate said.

“And me,” Abi said.

When Heather didn’t say anything, Nelson looked at him.

“I will go to protect you,” Heather said. “But only if you ask.”

“Please,” Nelson said.

“Then you agree?” Abi asked. “We will find the Templar hoard?”

“I know that it’s impertinent, but can I ask what did the ‘moronic human’ do?” Nelson asked.

No one said anything for a long moment. Nyx nodded.

“I will tell you something that you can never repeat,” Nyx said.

“That means that your life will be forfeited if you repeat what she says,” Abi said. “I will not allow you to agree. Nyx?”

“Mother,” Nyx said, giving an acquiescing nod. “Might I have your agreement that what I tell you is secret?”

“What if I need to tell another?” Nelson asked. “Like Blane or my father?”

The shadow that was Nyx fell silent.

“Yes, I understand now what the mother is saying,” Nyx said. “You may tell those you love or those you need. I will grant you this.”

“I need?” Nelson asked.

“I will allow you to bring one human,” Nyx said. “A warrior.”

“We will need a warrior,” Abi said with a nod.

“A human,” Hecate said. “To support Nelson and defend him.”

“Won’t you defend me?” Nelson’s voice rose with anxiety.

“There are things that we cannot defend a human from,” Heather said.

“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.

Nelson nodded.

“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.

~~~~~~~~

Monday midday – 12:11 p.m.

Denver Crime Lab

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.

“Another time,” Bob said.

Nelson looked at Ava, and she nodded.

“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. . .”

Nelson sighed.

“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.

“I am the first and only male heir of Bernard of Clairvaux,” Nelson said. “The Templars attempted to kill me, my father, and my mother for my parents betrayal of the order.”

“How did they betray the order?” Dr. Quincy asked.

“By marrying and having me,” Nelson said. “They say, or at least my lunatic aunt said, that no one knew that they’d had a child. They never would have endangered a child, particularly a male child, one who can restore the Templars to great wealth. That’s what they say, at least.”

“My father snuck me out of France and to Denver, where I grew up,” Nelson said. “I learned to make swords and lift weights and. . . My father made me the person I am today.”

Nelson nodded. Fran reached over to put her hand over Nelson’s in support.

“My father always said that we should leave the treasure alone,” Nelson said. “He said that a quest for this hoard of gold would likely end in my death. He said that money and treasure acquired through pain and death could only bring pain and death. So I don’t know anything, nothing, about this stupid fucking treasure.”

Nelson sighed and looked down.

“Why am I telling you all of this?” Nelson asked. “I find myself in a position of needing to find this hoard. It has something to do with the stuff at your house, Ava. There’s something there that’s dangerous to the entire world and everything on it. The only thing that can mitigate that danger is in the Templar hoard or believed to be in the hoard. It’s something called ‘Adam’s Apple.’ I know it to be a large ruby.”

“How can we help?” Ava asked.

“Anything,” Fran said.

“Think of us as your support system,” Leslie said. “Our help can ensure that you get in and out alive.”

“She’s right,” Bob said.

“You know that Leslie is right,” Dr. Quincy said. “We are of above intelligence. We figure out obscure puzzles every single day. I can’t speak for the others but I’ll help you.”

“I will too,” Ava said.

“For a percentage of the hoard?” Nelson asked.

Everyone at the table reacted by pushing back from the table. No one said anything for a moment.

“I personally do not want anything to do with that treasure,” Dr. Quincy said.

Everyone nodded.

“Whatever we find, we should make every effort to give it back to those who owned it,” Ava said. “Or give to a museum in the area of those it was taken from.”

“I agree,” Nelson said with a nod. “Like you’ve done with the stuff from Poland.”

“Exactly,” Ava said.

“We’re on your team,” Leslie said. “With an emphasis on your.”

“If you have to do this thing, then we all have to do it,” Bob said with a nod.

Nelson’s eyes welled with tears. He leaned his head forward.

“It’s a terrible burden for you to have carried for all of this time,” Fran said.

Nelson nodded.

“I can’t bring you with me,” Nelson said.

“We’ll be your team at home,” Ava said with a grin. “Your intelligence team. Your ‘mission central.’”

“Your Houston,” Leslie said with a grin.

Everyone around the table grinned and nodded.

“I’ve been told that I can bring one human female with me,” Nelson said. “A warrior. I wanted to ask you if you had any ideas. I was going to ask Mike, you know, Mike Roper, but he’s male and. . . M.J.’s male and. . .”

“Alex,” Ava said. “You should ask Alex Hargreaves.”

Nelson looked up at the team everyone was nodding.

“I know her brother but. . .” Nelson said.

“You will have to ask her,” Ava said. “She’s busy, really busy. They had to wait a year to get on her schedule for Poland.”

“But you think I should ask her?” Nelson asked. “I don’t really know her.”

“I do,” Ava said. “I can make the introductions.”

“You will?” Nelson asked.

“I will,” Ava said. “Especially if it gets whatever that thing it out of my house. See? I’m motivated.”

Nelson smiled at Ava. The team fell silent. After a moment, they started eating again. They moved on to talking about the case they were working on. When they’d finished eating, they left Ava’s office. When Nelson got to the door, Ava stopped him.

“I’ll call her right now,” Ava said.

Nelson turned to look at Ava. After a moment, Nelson nodded and got back to work.

Denver Cereal continues next week...


Chapter Six Hundred - A solution to that fairy problem

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED

Olympia

Aphrodite pointed in the direction of where the fairies were negotiating. The attendant rolled her eyes and nodded.

“But,” the attendant said, “be prepared. They aren’t exactly sane, which is why we’re in this area.”

Aphrodite looked around. The room the fairies had been working was moved to an energetic desert.

“Yes, I wondered,” Aphrodite said.

The attendant nodded. She got up and walked Aphrodite across ten feet of what looked like sand but felt like glass to a door. The attendant knocked on the door before using what looked like a key to open a lock in the door.

“Shall I call your attendants?” the woman asked.

“No,” Aphrodite said. “That won’t be necessary.”

“Your granddaughter, perhaps,” the attendant asked.

Aphrodite laughed.

“You think this will make me angry?” Aphrodite laughed.

The attendant nodded.

“Abi is inside,” Aphrodite said.

“She is, my lady,” attendant said. “Ares left about an hour ago. Just sick of it.”

Aphrodite gave the attendant a wide smile.

“Yes,” the attendant said. “I was told to tell you not to destroy them.”

“Who?” Aphrodite asked.

“The fairies,” the attendant said with a sigh. She rolled her eyes and repeated something that she had clearly heard from someone else, “Fairies are an important part of the ecosystem of the earth.”

“Abi?” Aphrodite asked.

“Oh no,” the attendant said.

“Zeus,” Aphrodite said.

The attendant gave a quick nod.

“Important to the ecosystem of his genitals,” Aphrodite said, under her breath.

The attendant laughed.

“Did I say something?” Aphrodite gave the attendant a wicked grin. “Thank you for your assistance.”

“My lady,” the attendant said, with a bow.

Aphrodite went to the door. She turned back to the attendant.

“Has Hera been here?” Aphrodite asked.

“I like the way you think,” the attendant said with a laugh.

Aphrodite gave the attendant a nod.

“As you wish,” the attendant said, still laughing.

Aphrodite grinned and went through the door. The moment she was inside the room, she wished that she hadn’t entered. The noise was unbelievable. The fairies were screaming at each other. Edie was holding back a tall red haired fairy from attacking a fairy who looked like an Princess from India. The fairies were yelling at each other.

Abi stood to the side. Her hands were out as if she were holding the entire proceedings between them. She was so focused on what she was doing that she didn’t notice Aphrodite entering the area.

Aphrodite held up a hand and the fairies stopped motion. Abi looked up. Seeing Aphrodite, she grinned at her old friend.

“I was spending some time with my granddaughter,” Aphrodite said as she moved toward Abi, “and her charming step-children showed me one of those documentary films. . .”

“Isn’t film brilliant?” Abi asked.

“Truly magical,” Aprhodite replied. They were speaking an ancient language known only to them. “The documentary said that there was once a planet. Another planet they called ‘Theia’ slammed into the original planet. These two planets merged to form the one we are standing on.”

Abi grinned at her friend.

“Then, for billions of sun rotations, the new planet was bombarded by ice storms,” Aphrodite said.

“I remember,” Abi said. “Do you?”

“I remember you and. . . shall we call him ‘Theia’?” Aphrodite asked.

“Don’t,” Abi said. “It will only start him ranting.”

Aphrodite gave Abi an acquiescing nod.

“Ask me what you want?” Abi commanded.

“Was I dropped on this planet by an ice storm?” Aphrodite asked. “Like these fairies?”

“No.” Abi shook her head. “You are not like them.”

“But. . .” Aphrodite started.

“You are the sea,” Abi said. “You are the storm. You are all of the ice storms combined.”

Aphrodite gave Abi a quick nod.

“And love?” Aphrodite asked.

“‘Love’ is the human word for the energy between all water molecules,” Abi said. “The energy which holds the oceans together. The energy which unites everything on this planet. The energy between people.”

“You are not that energy,” Aphrodite said.

“I am the planet,” Abi said with a grin. “Our Gilfand is the surface area, well, with my help.”

“I see,” Aphrodite said. “Thank you for clearing that up.”

“I love this science,” Abi said with a grin.

“I do as well,” Aphrodite said. “Human beings are so much smarter than I ever gave them credit.”

“You give them no credit at all,” Abi grinned.

“There is that,” Aphrodite said.

The old friends laughed.

“They are wonderful children — Nash, Teddy, and Noelle,” Abi said. “So bright and funny. They make my human existence truly magical.”

“Yes,” Aphrodite said.

Abi sighed.

“I have been here too long,” Abi said. “They have been bickering so long — adding up grudges and judgements and slights to their tender egos — that I fear there is no way forward for them.”

“Would you like me to ‘use my power over their water molecules’?” Aphrodite asked.

“If you would,” Abi said. “I am becoming exhausted. I am not well suited for all of this. . . well, as Nash would say, ‘bullshit.’”

Aphrodite grinned.

“Do you wish me to drown them all?” Aphrodite asked.

Abi looked at her old friend for a little too long of a moment.

“Zeus told the attendant that they were ‘necessary to the ecosystem of the earth,’” Aphrodite said. “I told her that they were necessary for the ecosystem of his genitals.”

Abi started to laugh. The two old friends laughed until they cried. Abi sighed again.

“Stop just short of killing them all,” Abi said.

“As you wish,” Aphrodite said.

Aphrodite restarted the fairies motion again. The noise level was once again overwhelming. Aphrodite clapped her hands.

“I need your attention,” Aphrodite said.

A pulse went through the room and the fairies stopped talking. They turned toward Aphrodite.

“As I see it the issue is this,” Aphrodite said.

Áthas’s envoy opened her mouth to speak.

“You dare to speak while I am,” Aphrodite opened her hand. “Be still.”

When Aphrodite closed her hand, the fairy princess no longer had a mouth.

“There are four fairies peoples,” Aphrodite said. “Queen Fand’s fairies, as led by Princess Edith her biological daughter and her son Prince Finegal.”

Edie dropped to her knees before Aphrodite. Fin appeared in the room in his royal finery. Seeing Edie, he dropped down to her side.

“Shakti’s fairies, as led by her lieutenant and envoys,” Aphrodite said.

The envoys and Shakti’s lieutenant dropped to their knees before Aphrodite.

“We have the missing or what we are calling the ‘lost fairies,’” Aphrodite said.

A group of fairies milling around the back of the room fell to their knees.

“And then there’s Áthas,” Aphrodite said. She sneered when she gestured to the envoy.

“We will not bow to you,” a fairy lieutenant said.

“Okay,” Aphrodite said. “Be gone.”

The fairy lieutenant exploded. The fairies gasped in horror as bits of the fairy lieutenant splattered onto them. Aphrodite shot Abi a look. Abi shook her head at her old friend.

“This is war!” another of Áthas’s fairy lieutenant’s said.

“Oh shut up,” Aphrodite said. “You threatened those who are dear to me. You are lucky that I don’t tell my dear friend Uriel what you tried to do to his granddaughter.”

The fairies loyal to Áthas shifted in place.

“Here’s what I offer,” Aphrodite said. “We can all agree that Princess Edith is the best fairy to lead a united Queendom. She is smart. She is stronger than every fairy in this room. She has plan to lift up the poorer fairies including educating them. She and her brother, Prince Finegal, have lived in the modern human world long enough to bring the entire fairy world into the modern times.”

“She will be your initial leader,” Aphrodite said.

“On who’s authority?” Áthas’s lieutenant asked.

“On mine,” Abi said.

The ground under them shook when Abi spoke. The fairies fell silent.

“We will hold an election as they do in the human world,” Edie said. She stood to address the fairies. “After we get things settled and be unite. We plan to tour every fairyland. Once the systems and support are in place, we’ll have elections. These things will be lead by a emissaries from every fairy nation.”

“Very interesting, my dear,” Aphrodite interrupted. “Let me finish.”

“My lady,” Edie said.

“Now there are those who do not wish to be a party of this,” Aphrodite said. “For them, I offer this solution — join the human ranks. Give up your spot in the fairy nation. Make your way in the human world.”

“Will we keep our fairy powers?” one fairy yelled from the back of the room.

“It’s unlikely,” Aphrodite said with a shrug. “Your fairy power comes from the connection to your princess.”

Aphrodite looked around the room. Not a fairy stirred.

“I will give you exactly one minute to make your decision,” Aphrodite said. “After that minute, your choice will be executed.”

She theatrically turned over her hand to look at a non-existent watch on her wrist.

“A minute is too short of a time!” Áthas’s lieutenant said.

“By all means, spend your minute complaining and bickering,” Aphrodite said without looking up. Aphrodite blew out a breath. “So it is.”

There was a great breeze that ran through the room. Many fairies were simply gone including all of Áthas’s lieutenants. Oddly, none of the lost or missing fairies had chosen to leave. Any standing fairies dropped down to their knees to join the others.

“Now, the rest of you have work to do,” Aphrodite said.

“Goddess,” Edie said, standing. “Will the fairies remember us?”

“No,” Aphrodite said. “They will wake up in the human world. I have not left them starving or bereft. They have adequate housing and food. They will get up tomorrow morning and get on with lives they believe they have had for a long time.”

Aphrodite brushed her hands together.

“You have work to do,” Aphrodite said. “Be just. Be fair. Be patient. Support each other and you will grow. This is the way of this planet. Fight with each other and you will fail. I believe in you.”

The remaining fairies cheered.

“Now, I must leave you and take Abi with me,” Aphrodite said.

“If you need us, just call,” Abi said.

“We may even show up,” Aphrodite said.

Abi laughed.

“Let’s get to work!” Edie said, standing.

While the fairies cheered, Abi turned to Aphrodite.

“What is it?” Abi asked.

“They found it,” Aphrodite said. “The light extinguisher.”

“Where?” Abi asked.

“They found it in that salt mine,” Aphrodite said. “It’s at your friend, Seth’s.”

“Take me,” Abi said.

Aphrodite touched her friend’s arm and two of the most powerful beings on the planet vanished. The fairies settled down to work.

~~~~~~~~

Monday early morning — 3:12 a.m.

“You will awaken now.”

Nelson gasped and sat up in his bed in the carriage house. He looked to see if Blane was there before remembering that Blane was with Heather tonight. He looked around the room to what had awakened him.

There was a human-like figure standing in the shadow.

Nelson rolled over and pulled a sword from under his mattress. The sword gave a slight hum as he pointed it at the figure.

“Show yourself,” Nelson demanded.

The figure did not move.

“Now,” Nelson said, as he’d learned as a child, he channeled his rage through his arm and into the sword. The sword began to hum and shine a pale light.

The figure did not move.

“Oh knock it off,” Heather’s voice came from the door to his bedroom. “You wanted his help. Stop being such an asshole.”

The figure laughed. Nelson looked at Heather.

“What’s going on?” Nelson asked Heather.

He knew that as long as Heather was there, he was protected from anything that could harm him. He leaned over to tuck the sword under his mattress. When he leaned back, Hecate was standing on the end of his bed. Her back was to Nelson as the Titan faced the figure in shadow.

“May I introduce my great-aunt Nyx,” Heather said.

“Who?” Nelson asked with a shake of her head.

“She’s my aunt,” Hecate said, still clearly on guard. “She is the Titan of the night. Daughter of Chaos.”

“Another Titan,” Nelson said under his breath.

“Are you surprised that I survived the purge?” the figure in shadow asked.

Nelson blinked a few times. He thought he’d seen a lovely feminine face with thick, plush lips and dark eyes. The face disappeared the moment his eyes focused on it.

“I was taught that the Titans were killed,” Nelson said. “I have learned from Hedone that this is not necessarily the case.”

There was a flash of bright white teeth smiling in the middle of the shadow.

“You have met Perses,” Nyx said.

Her distinctive voice was as familiar to Nelson as the depths of night. The dark seemed to surround him. The depths of shadow pressed against him. Nelson felt an overwhelming desire to weep with joy and wonder. Realizing how powerful this Titan was, he put a clamp on his emotions.

“And his children,” Nelson said with a nod.

The shadow grew in size.

“Hedone and Hecate are here because they do not trust me,” Nyx said. “I am only a danger to those who have never met the dark that lives inside them.”

Nelson didn’t dare say anything of he would start weeping. He gave a nod.

“That would not be you,” Nyx said.

Nelson felt the shadow ease away from him. He felt as if he’d somehow passed a test.

“I like him,” Nyx said.

Heather gave a nod that was more like a bow.

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” Nelson asked.

“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.

“How can I be of service?” Nelson asked.

“We need the Templar hoard,” Abi said.

Denver Cereal continues next week...