MISR: {3.3} Unsung

Chapter 50

"Um... I don't know if you've thought about this, but what is Mr. Hansen going to find when he gets back to the Vinculum chamber?" Filipe cautiously asked.

"Have you ever heard tales of an entire village that fell asleep following some catastrophic magical event?" Reaper asked slowly.

"Yeah. I've heard a few stories like that." Dex reluctantly admitted.

"Are you saying that Mr. Hansen and Mr. Couleigh are asleep?" Zanner asked anxiously.

"Frozen might be more accurate. Frozen in time that is." Reaper said slowly.

"Why?" Zanner asked seriously, willing to accept Reaper's assessment of the situation.

"When there's an unintentional breach of dimensions, the area typically freezes and remains frozen until someone can repair the dimensional instability that caused it."

"And you think that's what just happened?" Dex asked cautiously.

"To my knowledge, no one was intending to perform any extradimensional manipulations. A general summons for additional magic shouldn't have done anything like that."

"Does that mean that everyone could be frozen, waiting for a hundred years?" Zanner slowly asked.

"Waiting for true love's kiss?" Reaper suggested with an amused smile, then explained, "No. Probably not. Most likely either Milo or Paul is going to need to find a way to alter their spell in a way to allow it to complete, or dismantle the spell to the point that time unfreezes."

"But dismantling a spell this big and powerful could take... I don't even know how long. Months?" Zanner guessed.

"To dismantle it completely, yes. But to tear it down just enough to stop the freeze should be possible in a matter of weeks." Reaper said speculatively.

"Well, I guess if time's frozen, that'll only be a problem for us." Zanner reasoned.

"You misunderstand. Only those impacted by the spell who are inside the spell diagram will be frozen. The rest of the world will carry on, oblivious to our plight." Reaper said as he glanced at the psychedelic landscape outside the archway.

"So what can we do to help Milo and Paul fix this mess?" Dex asked cautiously.

Zanner smiled at his question and looked to Reaper expectantly.

"All that I can do is reiterate my request for my father's aid. Once he responds, that will be all that any of us can do until the spell on us is completed or broken." Reaper calmly explained.

"When you ask your dad, do you think he'll really come here?" Zanner asked cautiously.

"No. If he were so inclined, I am certain he would have arrived before now. He would have sensed it as soon as my magic entered his realm." Reaper said regretfully.

"Maybe he's busy and has to do stuff before he can go." Dex quietly offered.

"Yeah. Maybe you caught him when he was on the toilet or something like that."

There was a commotion as the cherubs scrambled back in fear.

"Such a suggestion might be considered blasphemy." Reaper slowly explained.

"Hey! I'm on your side here! I'm trying to make excuses for your dad so you don't have to automatically think the worst of him." Zanner said assertively.

"Oh!?... Is that what you were doing? Thank you... I think." Reaper said uncertainly.

Zanner laughed, then asked, "Do you think you're the only one who was ever disappointed in their dad and had to make excuses for him?"

"Is your father also... distant?" Reaper asked cautiously.

"Naw. As far as the luck of the draw goes, I came out with a pretty good one. I'm just sayin that it happens. If you can just kind of accept that and use it to appreciate the times when he isn't being a jerk... well, it seemed to let them have better relationships."

"Every century or so he will have cause to seek me out. When next I encounter him, I will try to keep what you have said in mind." Reaper said slowly.

"So you really don't think he's coming, do you?" Zanner asked quietly.

"Had he decided that it was a worthwhile endeavor, he would have arrived by now."

"Yeah. So what do you think we should do next?" Zanner carefully asked.

"Maintain our spells and be as prepared as possible for when the assembly is fulfilled."

"When will we know if your dad is going to share the family magic with you."

"I just now received his answer. I can draw upon his power when the time comes."

Zanner cautiously walked to Reaper and gently put an arm around him.

Reaper lowered one of his many arms around Zanner's shoulders and returned his hug.

Dex sadly smiled as he watched his friends silently comforting each other.

* * * * *

"Milo? Where's my boy!?" A surprisingly joyful elven man asked as he stepped through the archway.

"Hi Dad. It's good to see you." Milo said timidly.

"So what's with this summons for magical support? You've always been determined to do things on your own. Even as a small child, you were so stubborn. You'd always insist on doing everything yourself." The elf asked as he pulled his son into a firm hug.

"Thanks for coming. The magical support call was part of the Assembly of the Magi spell. It wasn't really meant to summon you in person, it was just supposed to request whatever magic you or our family can provide to support me through this important casting that I'm going to be doing." Milo explained.

"You've been chosen for an Assembly of the Magi? That's so great! Assemblies only occur once every few generations. What an incredible honor! I'm so proud of you!" The elf exclaimed, then pulled Milo into another hug.

"No wonder Milo's so quiet." Filipe muttered to Dr. Williams at his side.

"Who is this we have here?" Milo's father suddenly asked as he released his son. "Why don't you introduce me to all your friends?"

Milo looked supremely uncomfortable, but dutifully carried on and said, "Everyone, this is my father, Jhaartael. Dad, I would like for you to meet Professor Everstone, Dr. Williams and Filipe. They will be making use of the magic that I will be releasing."

"A pleasure to meet you. Thank you for helping my son." Jhaartael said as he shook their hands.

"The boy with the spear is named G, he's going to be providing the raw elemental magic to fuel the spell." Milo said, in an obvious effort to keep things moving along.

"I'd never expect one as young as you to be able to hold an artifact of pure elemental power. What a wondrous world, so full of potential." Jhaartael said joyfully.

"Over here we have Rhuru-wra, a novice magic user of the Wudewas people and Agent Fastbeck from the FBI." Milo said timidly.

"I bet there's some kind of crazy story behind that." Jhaartael said with a laugh, then shook their hands as he said more formally, "It's wonderful to meet you both! It's so good to see Milo opening up to being around a more varied circle of friends. While I appreciate all that the druids have done for him, I've worried that he's been hiding himself away from the world."

"Dad!" Milo said in a scandalized voice.

"It doesn't even occur to him that I've already lived a lifetime and that in all that time I might have learned one or two things about how the world works. No. He wants to tread back over that same ground and make the same mistakes that I did, rather than listen to me and carry on from this point forward." Jhaartael said frankly.

"I can't learn from your mistakes. You lived your life and faced the consequences. Now it's time for me to do the same with mine." Milo said firmly.

"Of course! Live your life as you see fit. I'm just saying that I've been worried about some of your choices and that I approve of the new direction that you're taking."

Milo seemed to be frozen for a moment, then he quietly said, "I'm glad that you approve."

Jhaartael smiled, then looked curiously as a shadow moved to Milo's side and cautiously put a hand on his arm.

"Dad, this is Obby, another friend of mine." Milo said hesitantly, watching carefully for his father's reaction.

"When I told you that you needed to make new friends, I didn't mean..."

"Obby's not a shade. He's a fully formed shadow demon. If he's my friend it's because he wants to be, not because I commanded him."

"It was a joke. I wasn't accusing you of anything." Jhaartael said slowly, with a look of concern at his son's drastic reaction.

Milo unwillingly glanced back at his 'choir', who were dutifully standing aside, waiting to be called upon.

"Oh. It's like that, is it?" Jhaartael quietly asked.

"It gets lonely. I did what I had to do to get by." Milo said in his defense.

After a moment to consider, Jhaartael finally said, "That's good enough for me. If it got you here, to the point in your life where you've been found worthy of being chosen as a Magi, then you've made the decisions that are right for you."

"Okay, Dad. Thanks." Milo said timidly.

A hiss drew attention away from the father and son.

"This is Mah Zah. She wants you to know that she's an accomplished wizard in her own right and that she's available to help if she's needed." G said in a somewhat distant voice, obviously trying to maintain his consistent output of magic.

"Well, isn't that something!? We'll be sure to count you among the resources to draw upon." Jhaartael said to her warmly.

"Do we need to be doing something right now?" Filipe cautiously asked.

"Right you are." Jhaartael said firmly, then turned to Milo and said, "Son? You know better than I do about how all of this works. Take the lead and I will follow."

* * * * *

"Before we get too deeply entrenched in that, I was wondering if you might have a moment to help me with something..." D cautiously began.

"What might that be?"

"...you see, last year, at my wedding..." D reluctantly continued.

Paul audibly groaned at the memory.

D spared his son a sympathetic smile before continuing, "...the way it worked out, my ex-wife showed up and things became a bit... tempestuous."

"Emaline's your ex-wife?" The child-like demon asked with delight.

"Yes. Do you know what happened to her?" D asked hopefully.

"No. Not specifically. When Paul called for my help, of course I wanted to answer his call, but I couldn't, due to the banishment cast against me. So instead, I sent one of my most trusted associates to help out however he could. I was surprised, to say the least, when he returned with that raving harpy... wait. No. Harpies aren't really that bad... comparatively... You were really married to her?"

"She wasn't like that when we got married..." D began to say.

"Oh? So you're saying that you made her that way?"

"No! Not at all!" D quickly defended, then noticed that his son's biological father was half-convulsed with laughter.

D glared at him impatiently.

"Sorry. But you've got to realize that I'm a demon. It's in my nature to wind people up every so often."

"I suppose so." D reluctantly conceded.

"As to Emaline, it turned out that she had a spell or ward or something that made it possible for her to endure the demon realm or adapt to it somehow. For whatever reason, being in the demon realm didn't harm her so she decided to stay. Now she appears to be in a long-term relationship with a Chirago demon from Wrest-Skor, over by the border... Has him cowering like a whipped puppy from the way I hear it."

"What should I tell G about his mom?" Paul asked both men with concern.

"Nothing. If he mentions being worried about her, you could let him know that you have it on good authority that she's still alive. Beyond that, use your own judgement, but I wouldn't go out of my way to bring the subject up." D said thoughtfully.

"I'm just curious. Do you suppose that everyone at all three sites are waiting on us to make the next move to resolve this?" Miss Oaken asked the group uncertainly.

"Probably. Yeah." Paul immediately answered.

"Being that we're inhabiting a multidimensional space, it would be possible to tune this share of the space to continue to be part of the Meayithan Realm. That would allow me to continue to remain in this space with you without running afoul of Beth's banishment." Paul's father cautiously suggested.

"Would that be okay?" Paul asked D anxiously.

"No disrespect to your father, but I don't think that it's our place to invite an archdemon to join us." D told his son regretfully.

"Why not? With all the druids and bigfoots that we've already got helping us, why not invite Paul's father, too? Who knows? He might end up being the one who tips the balance in our favor." Corabeth said frankly.

D looked around the group and cautiously asked, "Does anyone have a problem with inviting.... I didn't catch your name."

"I didn't throw it." The seemingly pubescent demon responded simply.

"People who don't work with demons a lot probably don't know about the power in a name. He's not being rude, he's just protecting himself." Paul quickly explained.

"Paul. Don't lose your concentration on the spell you're casting." Miss Oaken sternly warned.

"Don't worry, I got it." Paul assured his teacher, then continued toward D, "Since we can't use his real name, why don't you just call him 'V'?"

D smiled warmly at his son, then said, "We could certainly do that. I guess this means that you intend for him to be regarded as part of our family."

"He's my biological father. How much more a part of our family could he possibly be?" Paul asked assertively.

"Does anyone have a problem with V helping us? I need to hear about it now if you do." D asked sternly as he looked around the gathering, stopping on Agent Roberts.

"I don't recall any mention of literal demons in my FBI training so I don't think there's any 'professional' reason for me to object." Agent Roberts said simply, then with a smile he added, "On a personal level, V seems to be a lot more pleasant to be around than quite a few humans that I could name. I have no objection."

"Thank you, Agent..." V asked in such a way as to inquire his name.

"Agent Roberts, but I think I'd like it if you'd call me Shawn."

"Yes, of course. That's very kind of you." V said appreciatively.

"Anyone else?" D asked of the group.

"Going once...

"Going twice...


"We WILL be inviting V to stay and help us." D announced to the gathering.

"So what do we need to do to adjust the vinculum chamber to allow a demon to exist in our realm without being harmed by the nature energy?" Miss Oaken asked cautiously.

"If no one cares, I can fix the vinculum spell. It's just a simple adjustment to the multi-locational locus. Easy-peasy."

"You know, everytime he says that it ends up being a high level wizardry that I can't begin to comprehend." D quietly explained to the others around him.

"That's my boy." V said proudly.

"That's our boy." D said firmly.

"Yes. I suppose he is...I never even considered sharing him with anyone. Isn't that odd?"

"You DO realize that I'm STILL channeling water magic, don't you?" Mr. Bentley Brown demanded to know.

"Just as soon as Paul's ready to adjust the properties of this space, we'll be ready to get back to that." D assured him.

"I'm ready. I just need to make sure that everyone knows that when we snap back into our own dimension, the magic might kick in without warning." Paul said cautiously.

"What are we going to be doing?" V asked cautiously.

"Taking down a magical barrier and recasting it with improvements to make it more enduring." D said simply.

"You'll have to show me what to do, but I'll be willing to help however I can." V quietly offered.

"Thank you, V. That's very kind of you." D said gratefully.

"Yeah. Just don't spread it around. You could spoil my reputation."

"It's a deal."

* * * * *

"Do you want to... maybe send the cherubs to go and see what's going on?" Zanner asked quietly.

"No. Should the flow of magic suddenly start, I believe it would be better to have them here with us. It might have been a mistake to allow all the other witches to leave. I won't compound that mistake by sending the Cherubim away as well." Reaper slowly explained.

"What can we do until our time/space gets fixed?" Zanner asked cautiously from Reaper's side.

"I think the most productive thing might be to explain to the cherubim as much as you know about Mr. Hansen's plans for deconstructing and recreating the protectorate barrier." Reaper carefully explained.

"Is it going to cause a problem if the magic starts flowing and Den isn't here for you to target?" Dex asked thoughtfully.

"No. That is, not as long as I keep my head. Assuming that Linnaeus and Den stay together, I should be able to follow my bond to my demi-brother. Using him by proxy should allow me to target Den with little difficulty."

"Did you plan it that way before they left?" Zanner asked curiously.

"I considered the possibility that the magical flow might begin before they had the chance to return and decided that it would not be an insurmountable problem if that were to happen."

"So you didn't plan it, but you were prepared for it?" Zanner asked to confirm.

"Yes. That's a reasonable way of looking at it."

"And right now, just so that we can be prepared, you want for us to tell these guys as much as we know about what Mr. Hansen and Mr. Couleigh were planning to do?" Zanner asked to confirm.

"We don't know everything, but we'll do as much as we can." Dex promised for both of them.

* * * * *

"Actually, there isn't much we can do until all three Magi have completed their spells and released the stored magic of the Vinculum. I've done as much as I can.

"The next thing we have to do is be ready if the magic is suddenly released. The Magi will have to immediately direct the flow of magic toward the bridges, in my case, that would be Rhuru-wra.

"Once that's done, then the witches and wizards will need to access the magic that the Wudewas are holding and put it to use, disassembling and recreating the barrier that protects the Southseid colony." Milo carefully explained.

"It's good to see you so passionate about something." Jhaartael said warmly.

"Dad! Pay attention! I need for you to be serious for once!" Milo said anxiously.

"I am serious. I'm just not stressing myself out about it. Keep in mind that I am the overseer of five separate dukedoms of faeries..."

"I thought it was four." Milo interrupted.

"Celeste decided that she wanted to take some time off and enjoy her twilight years. She didn't think that any of her children were worthy, so she asked me to take over the administration of the Mirrible Fae." Jhaartael explained.

"I'm surprised that Luna and Trance haven't tried to be named as the rightful heirs of succession." Milo said thoughtfully.

"I know. That just seems to prove Celeste's point. If they don't care enough about their land to fight for it, they don't deserve it." Jhaartael said seriously.

"We've gotten off track. If you can lend me the power of the five dukedoms long enough for me to access the magic stored in the vinculum chamber, then I can release it."

"Once that magic is released, what will you need for me to be doing?" Jhaartael asked professionally.

"I'm not sure." Milo began to say, then noticed his father's expression of pride seem to fall a bit.

"What I meant to say is that I can't predict where we're going to fall short of either power or control. I think it would be of most help to me if you could kind of monitor the status of how everyone is doing and jump in if you see that we're needing something." Milo quickly explained.

"Yes. I am of sufficient ability and power to be one of the more versatile members of the party. You're making good use of your assets." Jhaartael said thoughtfully.

Milo looked at his dad for a long moment, then quietly said, "I didn't mean to sound like I was scolding you. I'm just not used to being in charge of... anything. You're right. I'm stressing myself out, I just don't have your experience at keeping calm and knowing what to do."

"You're doing fine." Jhaartael said with a smile, then added, "And try to keep in mind that you aren't working without a net. If you need some help along the way, I'll see that you get it."

"Thanks, Dad." Milo said gratefully.

"But from the look of what I've seen so far, there's a very good chance that you won't need me." Jhaartael said frankly.

"Whether I need you or not, I'm glad that I'm going to be able to share this experience with you." Milo said with a smile.

"By the way, how is Klara doing these days?" Jhaartael asked casually.

"I don't know. I haven't heard from her in about four years." Milo said honestly.

"You know how your mom is, that probably means that she's fine." Jhaartael said simply.

"Or dead." Milo added seriously.

"Or dead." Jhaartael easily conceded with an unconcerned nod.

* * * * *

"Agent Roberts, would you go over and place your hand into the Brynnhollow door?"

"In some sense, they're ALL the Brynnhollow door, aren't they? Of course, by another way of thinking, none of them are now." Agent Roberts explained cautiously.

"I need for you to select one door for us to change the properties of. I just thought that the one that used to open to Brynnhollow would be the least likely to impact the other vinculum chambers." Paul patiently explained.

"Okay. I'll trust you to know what you're doing." Agent Roberts said as he walked to the archway and put his hand through.

"Hold it there for just another second... that's got it!" Paul finished with accomplishment.

A moment later, the scenery outside all but one of the archways changed from the nightmarish hellscape to the formal garden of Brynnhaven.

"How's that? Do you still have enough of a link to the infernal power of the Meayithan Realm?" Paul asked his father hopefully.

"Yes. That's fine." V said with a contented smile.

"So what do we have to do next?" Corabeth cautiously asked.

"You'd better get ready. I think shifting the vinculum back started a cascade. Here in a minute or two, everything might fall into place." Paul warned.

"What if it doesn't?" Corabeth asked cautiously.

"Then we'll give it a little kick." Paul answered simply.

D noticed the smile of pride that crossed V's face.

"Is there any reason to think that the other groups are having any difficulty with what just happened?" Agent Roberts asked cautiously.

After a moment to consider all that he was sensing, Paul carefully said, "Nothing feels out of place. That's all I can tell you."

"What's happening now?" Miss Oaken asked hesitantly.

"The different incarnations of the vinculum chamber are floating back to their point of origin. As near as I can tell, once they fall back into place, the magic of the vinculum should release." Paul said slowly.

"Everyone, brace yourselves." D said firmly.

"Hold on, there's a magical force starting up. Does anyone else feel that?" Paul asked as he looked around.

"Yes. It feels like... danger... like the field outside the vinculum." Corabeth fought to explain.

"Right! See if you can tell where it's coming from, or maybe where it's absent." Paul said quickly.

"What do you think this is?" D asked cautiously.

"A warning. We just have to figure out if it's warning us to go near something or away from it." Paul reasoned.

"It's not as bad over here." Ares said from beside the doorway that Agent Roberts had just put his hand through.

"That makes sense. Everyone, go over by the door. I think the vinculum is about to recombine itself so that it can release its magic." Paul said as he, too, rushed across the room.

"Then why did it break apart in the first place?" Corabeth asked snapishly.

"Because the elements needed to be brought forth separately, but once the elemental flow has been established, the four different vinculum chambers become one so that the united magic can be released." Paul fought to explain.

"So that would mean that you could use the specialty of any magic." V said thoughtfully.

"Any except fire. There's no source for fire in the spell." Paul said simply.

"Why not? Why would they go through all of this and leave fire out?" Corabeth asked curiously.

"I think Agent Roberts said it best. Fire is the element of growth, movement and change. The people who set up these colonies didn't want them to grow or change. They wanted them to stay safe and protected... they still do. That's what we're doing here." Paul said seriously.

"What's that? Did you feel that?" V asked as he looked around for the source of the sensation.

"I think that's the Protectorate, another one of the barriers. It's fallen into place, or is in the process of it." Paul said slowly, then reminded everyone, "Be ready for the onslaught of magic. It could come crashing down on us any second now."

"What you did to the doorway, is that going to keep me from getting back to my family?" Ares asked anxiously.

"No. Agent Roberts should be able to toggle the destination when he opens the doorway for you. Just make sure you let him know if you want to go to Brynnhollow or to hell." Paul finished with a grin.

Ares flashed Paul an eyeroll as he tried to restrain a smile.

"I see that I don't have anything to teach you in that regard." V said with appreciation at his son.

"Don't worry about Paul. He's a master of sarcasm." D said warmly.

"It's in his blood." V said frankly.

"Hang on! Hang on! Here it comes!" Paul said in an increasing voice.

* * * * *

Between one moment and the next, the world seemed to completely change all around them.

Something about the room seemed to be wrong. It was like, just for a moment, all sense of direction had been lost.

The physical structure of the room had changed, although the dimensions remained the same. What had been stone columns or mossy pillars a moment before were now the wooden posts of the gazebo behind the Old Tennyson Place.

"What the hell..." Dr. Williams began to ask when he was suddenly overcome by the deluge of magic.

"Bridges! Remember your bridges!" Paul screamed at the top of his lungs as he tried to retain control.

"I don't know what needs to be done." V said as he looked around helplessly.

"Access the pool of magic through Ares and Dark, then help us to manage it." D ground out.

"Who?" V asked as he looked around at the thirty or so people who now filled the gazebo.

"The raven and the snake. They're holding the Brynnhollow reservoir of magic." D fought to explain.

"Simple enough." V said slowly, then his eyes went wide as he felt the drowning sensation of being overwhelmed with magic.

V's automatic reaction was to transform to his 'battle' form. He increased not only in height but his body weight also more than tripled.

His new appearance was certainly more in line of what someone would think of as a demon.

He appeared to be a few years older and had lost a certain amount of his 'cuteness'. When he looked over at Paul, he slightly smiled, seeing that he had also reverted to his more demonic form.

Both of them had hooves and horns. While Paul's skin appeared to be that of a human, V's skin was a bit rougher and redder, more in line with traditional demon physiology.

"Cast it out! Not welcome here!" A voice screeched.

"Make it leave!" Another called after it.

"I see that you've noticed the new addition to our group." Agent Roberts said cautiously.

Receiving no response, he continued, "Everyone, this is V, he's Paul's biological father. V, this is everyone."

"Give me a minute." V said gruffly with his much lower demonic voice.

"Sure. Take your time." Agent Roberts said as he watched carefully for what the Cherubim were doing.

"It cannot be here. This is sanctioned by 'The Sword'." One of the cherubs announced.

"The sword's not here and V is. That's all the argument that I have for you. If you don't like it, you can leave." Agent Roberts said firmly.

"No. They cannot." Reaper said firmly, then explained, "They have been commanded to attend me and are not free to leave until I release them."

Agent Roberts looked down at the obviously distressed cherubim and said, "Sucks to be you."

A sudden movement drew V's attention and he smiled as he saw Mah Zah and Ginh Zah reunite.

"Thanks for taking good care of G, Mah Zah." Paul was able to say.

"I'm glad they're being of help to you." V said sincerely as he kept the majority of his focus on influencing the flood of magic.

"Obby? How are you doing?" Agent Roberts asked as he noticed his shadow standing before him.

The shadow took one step forward, then wrapped him in a firm hug.

Agent Roberts smiled at the warm greeting, then realized that as they hugged, Obby had become insubstantial and reattached to him.

"It's good to have you back." Agent Roberts said warmly.

"Did you guys start without us?" Mr. Hansen asked as he led a group toward the gazebo.

"In the days of tribute, in the months of seeing, in the years of trial, in the centuries of pain, we persevere. I humbly ask that you grant entry to one who serves. I am the keeper." Archdruid Highley called out as his group approached.

"We couldn't help ourselves. But we saved the best part for you. Are you guys ready?" Agent Fastbeck asked with concern.

"Den and Linnaeus could have done with a bit of warning, but I think we're doing as well as we can be under the circumstances." Archdruid Highley answered as he looked at his group with concern.

"Let's get them inside. I have a feeling that just as soon as all of them have acclimated to the level of magic that they'll be ready to get started.

Mr. Hansen, Mr. Couleigh, Den and Linnaeus were all more or less moving like zombies, going wherever the three gatekeepers steered them.

"Who's the new guy?" Archdruid Highley asked when the last of his charges were settled into place.

"Demon. Paul's father. Goes by V." Agent Roberts said simply.

"Any idea of what we need to do now?" Agent Fastbeck asked as he looked around at all the silent people struggling to gain control of the invisible power surrounding them.

"No. Not really. I guess we're just waiting on whatever's going to happen next." Agent Roberts answered honestly.

"You guys came back. I was worried that you weren't going to." Otis said as he stepped into the gazebo through the 'Waxell' archway.

"He doesn't have to say the words to open it." Agent Roberts said absently.

Agent Fastbeck shrugged, then said to Otis, "Everything's been building up to... something. I think it's about to happen."

"Do I have time to go get Kirwin? He went into the house to check on his grandfather. I know he wouldn't want to miss anything." Otis asked hopefully.

"Sure. But things are likely to get crazy around here. We're going to be trusting you to keep Kirwin and his grandfather safe. If things start getting dangerous, get them out of here."

"I will. I promise."

"Go on, then. It could start any second."

To Be Continued...

Editor's notes:
Well, not exactly a cliffhanger, but coming close. We continue to move forward toward our goal. Can't rush something this powerful. It's just not possible or if you try, things will surely cause issues.

I certainly am ready for more.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher