CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED-SIX
“Okay, I think we’ve got it,” Alex said.
Bestat held out her hand, and Alex gave her the sheet. She read the page and looked up at Alex.
“Do you think it’s right?” Alex asked.
“Can you speak with my son?” Bestat asked.
Alex touched her ear.
“Teddy?” Alex asked. She looked at Bestat.
“I’m here,” Teddy Jakkman said.
Bestat was Teddy’s father Zack Jakkman’s life partner. Teddy’s mother was no longer in the picture. Bestat had stepped in to mother Zack’s children. Teddy, his brother and sister adored Bestat as much as she loved them.
“We need the maps that you made on your computer,” Bestat said. “Particularly the one in the South of France.”
“Of course,” Teddy said. “Did you bring phones?”
“No,” Alex said. “But Mari’s here.”
Alex turned to Mari, the fairy.
“Can you bring me my work tablet?” Alex said. “It’s hand held and works with the satellite. My assistant, Dusty, should know where it is.”
“I’m here, sir,” U.S. Army Sergeant Alexander Roger Ulysses “Dusty” Cummings III said. “Raz, me, Troy, Margaret — we’re here at O’Malley’s house. The rest of the team are getting ready in case you need us. Except Vince, of course, because of his shoulder. You know, from the mine.”
“He’s here to boss us around,” U.S. Army Captain Andrew “Trece” Ramirez said. “But not to do the work. Of. Course.”
Rather than comment, Alex laughed.
“Thank you, Sergeant,” Alex said.
“Sir,” Sergeant Dusty said.
“The fairy is coming to get my work tablet,” Alex said.
“Won’t she break it with her electricity?” Sergeant Dusty asked.
“Why would I do that?” Mari asked.
Dusty squeaked with surprise at her sudden appearance. Alex heard Mari’s voice over her earbud. Alex looked up and saw that Nelson was following all of this on his earbud. He looked terrified. Alex walked over and grabbed his arm
“Steady on, Knight.”
Not ever sure what that meant, Nelson gave a simple nod.
Mari appeared with Alex’s tablet and a paper bag.
“Maresol said that you should eat,” Mari said with a shrug.
Nelson opened the bag and found two turkey sandwiches, two apples, and some small bags of potato chips. He gave a sandwich to Alex, who set it down. Nelson ate his sandwich in three bites.
“Why is that apple red?” Artemis asked.
Nelson grinned and tossed the apple to her. She grabbed it out of the air, took a bite, and gave a huge smile.
“Delicious,” Artemis said.
“Okay,” Alex said. “Bestat and I made a map of this area last night.”
“What is it?” Nelson asked.
In a breath, he was standing on the rich dark soil of a fertile field. The night was moonless. The dark had the inky quality brought by Nyx. He squinted to make out the building in the dark night.
“This is my mother’s family farm,” Nelson said. “You should know that they are. . .”
A woman and two men wearing full Templar armor ran out of the barn. They charged toward the group with their swords a loft.
“Can I kill them?” Artemis asked in a soft voice. “Hey Knight, is there another apple in the bag?”
Nelson pointed to the trees laden with fruit on the edge of the field. Artemis grinned.
“No, you cannot kill them,” Abi said.
“Let us deal with this,” Hedone said to Nelson.
“Get behind me, Nelson,” Alex said in a soft voice.
He shifted slightly behind her.
“I can fight,” Nelson said.
“This quest is bigger than you,” Mari whispered.
“There are things in play here that you simply wouldn’t understand,” Abi said.
She moved to stand behind him. She nodded to Artemis and Aphrodite. “Nyx.”
“We are protecting you, Knight,” Artemis said.
The Goddess of the Shadow appeared in front of the three Templar warriors. The warriors reeled back with surprise.
“You will abandon this,” Nyx said. “Now.”
She opened her hands and darkness surrounded the Templars. Aphrodite stepped forward and the darkness disappeared. Shocked and sensorial confused, the three Templar warriors stood, shocked and silent.
“Your turn, Knight,” Artemis said.
Nelson stepped out from behind Alex.
“I am Guy Semaines, son of Pierre Semaines, the head of the Order of the Templars,” Nelson said, in French. “I am heir to Bernard of Clairvaux. Templars — we are here on a matter of great importance. You owe me your fealty and allegiance.”
The three warriors looked at Nelson and blinked.
“We were warned that you would arrive,” the younger male said. “You are here to steal from us.”
“How can I steal from you when I own it all?” Nelson asked in the most arrogant voice he could manage. “I own this land. That house. Everything around for a hundred miles belongs to me — the heir of Bernard of Clairvaux.”
“This is a sanctioned quest by the leader of the Order of the Templars,” Hecate said. “You have no right to stand in our way. You should be helping the heir, not standing in his way.”
The leader of the three pointed his sword at Nelson.
“Because of you, the Order is in disarray,” the man said. “You murdered our fathers, brothers, nephews, and sons.”
“Before they killed us in our beds,” Nelson said.
Nelson saw Bestat gesture to Hecate. They slipped to the side of the Templar warriors.
“Only after you murdered my mother,” Nelson said. “Maimed my father. I am only here due to the sacrifice of my mother.”
“My sister,” the elder woman said and spit.
Without warning, an image of a happy couple with their six month old baby appeared in the field. The image was as clear as if they were watching television. The image bent in an arc around the three Templar warriors. The scene unfolded to show Nelson’s parents death. The magic was so complete that one of the warriors threw up at the gore.
Nelson lowered an eyebrow at Mari. She shrugged.
“They are assholes,” Mari said.
“Assholes or not, we are running out of time,” Nyx said. “Dragon! Get what we need! Fairy?”
In a blink of an eye, Bestat slid to the three Templars with a claw out. The long claw nail slid past the Templars throats. A drop of blood from each of them fell toward the ground. Bestat was once again standing with the quest party.
Mari appeared in front of the warriors with the original parchment. Their blood splashed on the parchment.
In the next second, Nelson felt a prick at his neck. A drop of his blood fell onto the stone that Nyx had taken from Mari’s sword.
“We’re done here,” Hecate said.
They were suddenly standing on the street of a modern city.
“Where are we now?” Nelson asked.
Bestat nodded toward a terraced house.
“I have lived here since the 1600s,” Hecate said moving toward the front door of the middle row house. “Shall we?”
“They survived the great London fire and the wars,” Mari said under her breath to Nelson.
“Imagine that,” Hecate said with a grin as she opened the door.
The members of the quest went inside.
“Looks like a museum,” Nelson said under his breath.
Mari pointed to something on the wall. Nelson turned to see that the head of the Historic Society was none other than Hecate. She grinned at them and they went upstairs.
“They won’t know we were here,” Hecate said. “Please — humans feel free to use the facilities. Our friend Hedone has gone out for food.”
Nelson went to use the restroom. He checked the place where Bestat had pricked him for his blood. There was a small scar in the shape of a heart. He washed his hands and face before returning to the group. When he came out, there were platters of delicious food and servants to take care of them. The servants looked right through him, so he figured that they were there to serve one of these Gods.
“He’s back,” Hedone said.
The Goddesses, Titans, Mari, Bestat, and Alex turned to look at him.
“What did we do with the blood?” Nelson asked, sitting down on a soft couch in front a platter of food.
“The parchment had ancient magic in it,” Bestat said. “It needed the blood of Templars to stabilize it. Once done, we had to set the compass.”
Nyx stepped out of the shadow to hold up the compass stone. No longer clear and light blue, the stone was now deep blue with threads of silver through it.
“Your blood transformed it, Templar,” Artemis said.
“Why didn’t we do that at home?” Nelson asked. “I’ve had the stone for almost a year.”
“We don’t know how long the charm will hold,” Bestat said. “Best to charge the stone when we are ready.”
“And?” Nelson asked. “What does it mean?”
“It means that we are close,” Hecate said.
“Good,” Nelson said.
“Eat now,” Bestat said, picking up a piece of thinly sliced rare beef. “Rest.”
“I thought we were in a big hurry?” Nelson asked.
“We’re in a time pocket created by Hecate’s home,” Hedone said, appearing by his side. “We are here to give you and Alex some time to refresh yourselves while we wait.”
She leaned forward and quickly made a kind of sandwich for Nelson from a roll and some poached salmon. She gave him the roll.
“Eat, sleep,” Hedone said and got up from the couch.
He took a bite of the meat filled roll and watched. The Goddesses and Titans were clearly friend, of a sort. They laughed with the dragon as if she were one of them. Abi sat down next to Nelson.
“How are you holding up?” Abi asked.
“I’m confused, but okay,” Nelson said.
“Yes, I imagine that’s true,” Abi said.
“When will we know it’s time to go?” Nelson asked.
“The compass,” Abi said. “You don’t know Nyx, but I can assure you that she is sitting and staring at the compass. We won’t miss it.”
Nelson nodded. Alex sat down on the other side of him.
“Eat,” Abi said.
“I usually don’t eat while on mission,” Alex said.
Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Abi do something, he wasn’t sure what.
“This does look delicious,” Alex said. She leaned over and picked up what looked to Nelson like a tuna and mayonnaise sandwich. “How did you know that I love these?”
Abi simply grinned. Alex ate her sandwich with great joy and poked around on her work tablet.
“How do you just accept all of this stuff?” Nelson asked Alex under his breath.
Alex turned and looked at him for a long moment. She shrugged.
“I guess I’m used to it,” Alex said. “Being in the military is a little bit like being around magic. Things happen that you don’t expect. You have to go here or there. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen asleep in one location and woken up somewhere completely different. Sometimes our destination changes while we’re in the air. It’s crazy, but it works.”
Alex nodded to Abi.
“These are people will keep us safe,” Alex said. “I check that I’m safe. That you’re safe. We will have to be active soon enough. May as well enjoy our down time.”
“A tuna sandwich is just a bonus,” Alex said with a grin.
“Why?” Nelson asked.
“I don’t get to have them when I’m working,” Alex said. “My teammates hate the smell. So I have them at home. It’s really my favorite. The only thing better than this is a tuna melt.”
Nelson grinned at her.
“Has Blane ever made you one?” Nelson asked.
Alex grabbed her stomach and groaned dramatically. Nyx appeared suddenly.
“Are you ill?” Nyx asked.
“No,” Alex said looking up into the gorgeous face of the dark. “Just being dramatic.”
“Humans,” Nyx laughed and dissolved into the shadow.
Alex gave Nelson a look out of the side of her eyes. Nelson grinned. They settled into a kind of quiet kind of contemplation.
“What are you thinking about?” Nelson asked Alex.
“Making lists,” Alex said. “This is fun and everything but we’re due to deploy in a week or so.”
She looked at Nelson and smiled.
“I have a lot of fun things to get in before then,” Alex said with a grin and a wiggle of her eyebrows.
“Like what?” Nelson asked.
“My friend Ji is talking about moving to Denver again,” Alex said. “He’s a master martial artist. We’re supposed to take them to look at houses this weekend. He and I will spar. Colin too.”
Alex nodded to Nelson.
“Your turn,” Alex said.
“Oh,” Nelson sighed. “We’re working on a cold case set in Grand Junction. Very hush, hush because of the players involved. I was wondering what the solution will turn out to be. Ava and Seth. . .”
Nelson looked at Alex to be sure that she knew who he was talking about. She nodded.
“They are so great at digging up details that no one thought about before,” Nelson said. He looked at Alex. “We’ve solved every case so far.”
Alex nodded and sighed.
“It’s amazing how saving the world never fits into my plans,” Alex said under her breath.
Nelson laughed. They fell silent again.
“There’s a lot of waiting with my work,” Alex said.
“Yeah?” Nelson asked.
“We usually play cards,” Alex said.
Nelson raised his hands and leaned back.
“I will not play cards with you,” Nelson said.
“What?” Alex asked, laughing. “Why?”
“Max says that you’re even better at cards than he is,” Nelson said shaking his head. “I’ve played with John and that was brutal. I will not play with you.”
“I can’t believe that we know so many people in common and never met,” Alex said.
“What do you think you’ll do when all of this Templar stuff is over?” Alex asked.
Nelson turned to look at her.
“You’ve been this ‘heir’ all of your life,” Alex said. “I just wondered what it would be like for you it was over.”
“Help my father disband the organization,” Nelson said. Nodding to where Hedone, Hecate, and Artemis were talking. “Make sure to get the items in the hoard back to their rightful owners. Turn the properties over to the French government.”
“My father had plans to disband the organization,” Nelson said, “I mean, before all of this.”
“You won’t miss it?” Alex asked. “I mean, there are probably thousands of men who would have loved to be the heir.”
“That’s because they don’t really know what it means,” Nelson said.
Nyx appeared in the middle of the room.
“More later,” Alex said out of the corner of her mouth.
“Time to go,” Nyx said.
“Where?” Nelson asked.
His words were lost in the rush of movement and spinning chaos that was traveling by fairy.
Denver Cereal continues next week...
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