Trials: Part Thirty Six

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It was nearing sunset when Paul and Anastasia neared the edge of the monastery. She looked out over it one last time. It was beautiful, and it was a shame they had to leave. As she was about to turn around and cross the threshold, she saw a flash of light, and out of it materialized Siobhan and Coombre. Anastasia dropped her bag and ran to hug them.

“We’ll miss you Anastasia” Siobhan patted her back.

Coombre reached into his pocket, and pulled out a book. “Adara said to give this to you.”

Anastasia took it, and saw it was one of the empty journals from the desk. It had a brown leather cover with an ‘A’ embroidered on the front. On the first page was a photograph and a note. The photo was of her, Coombre, and Siobhan when they were cataloging one of the rooms of artifacts. The note read as follows:

For Anastasia, may your curiosity never rest, and when we are rejoined, I hope you will have remembered to write some of your findings. -Adara

Below that, she saw that Siobhan and Coombre had both signed it as well. Her eyes welled with tears. She hugged them both again.

“Thank you.”

“We’ll miss you.” Siobhan stood back and waved.

“Until next time.” Coombre nodded.

Anastasia put the journal in her bag and waved. She took Paul’s hand, and crossed the threshold. Siobhan, Coombre, and the monastery disappeared, and were replaced by the same rocky beach.

“Alright, Paul. Let’s go.” Anastasia wiped a tear from her eye.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay?” Paul asked.

“Yeah,” she nodded, “Sometimes you just have to say goodbye. I think I’ll see them again.”

“Well, we’d better get going. I guess we need to go buy plane tickets.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Anastasia began to walk forwards, when she saw a man step out from behind a rock. “Oh, hey Jean. I was wondering when you would show up!”

“Jean? What’s he doing here?” Paul asked.

“I suppose my skills have slipped.” Jean shook his head and made his way towards them. “I thought for sure I had remained unseen. That dastardly Adara…” He looked off into the distance with a smirk.

“Wait, what? You know Adara?”

“Don’t worry about it Paul.” Anastasia laughed. “You don’t have to know everything.”

“Yes, I apologize for not revealing myself earlier, Mr. Darbyshire, but I was instructed to not make my presence known until you were ready to go home.” He smiled warmly. “Mr. Smith asked me to keep an eye on you both, not to mention I had some business with Adara myself.”

“Very funny, everyone’s in on the secret, whatever.” Paul sighed. “Let’s just get going.”

“I took the liberty of retrieving your plane tickets. Your flight leaves at midnight, so that gives you plenty of time to get to the airport and through customs.” Jean handed Anastasia two plane tickets.

“Why do I get the feeling that you’re not coming back with us, Jean?”

“Oh, I just have an errand to run first. Business in Algeria.” Jean turned and began to walk away, before turning back for a moment. “If I’m not back within a month, please do tell Mr. Smith to assume I am deceased.”

“Good luck Jean!” Anastasia called after him.

Paul and Anastasia were silent for a moment. They listened to the waves, and to the crunching of Jean’s footsteps.

He nodded blankly for a moment, before turning to Anastasia. “Why do I get the feeling that you were up to much more than a cleaning project, while I was training?”

“Don’t worry about it.” Anastasia smiled. “We’re both allowed to have our secrets.”

“You’ve changed, Anastasia.” Paul chuckled. “I think I like it.”

Anastasia recalled the original reason that she had taken this trip. Sure there were all of the pretenses of helping Paul, and of her first vacation, but the real reason was to get closer to Paul. She laughed a little. She had hardly managed to spend any time with him, since they were both so busy with their own things. They still had a little time left, but now she felt pretty happy with the way things were. She had other mysteries to solve, and really didn’t need to give Vanessa more of a reason to hate her. She looked off into the sunset, and for the first time that she realized it, she was happy with herself. She didn’t need something or someone else.

Her heartfelt internal monologue was disrupted by the sound of Paul’s phone ringing.

He picked up, and raised it to his ear. “Hello, this is Paul… Yeah our flight leaves at midnight, we were already coming home… Yeah I know she’s missing… The same way I know most things… No, I don’t know where she is… Arte calm down, stop shouting into the phone… Yes I’d call that shouting…” He began to make static noises with his mouth. “Sorry signals bad, gotta go. Make sure Mr. Smith personally drives us to your place from the airport…” He hung up.

“Who was that? Who’s this Arte person that keeps calling you?” Anastasia recalled he said the same name while he was on the phone in that café.

Oh, you don’t have to know everything.” Paul replied in a mocking tone.

“Oh shut up, Paul.” She elbowed him and laughed. “Let’s get going then.” She began to lead him, but he didn’t move.

“Oh well, you should probably know this thing, though.” Paul’s face went serious. “Mr. Smith called Jude. He said nobody knows where Vanessa is. She went on a trip, but she never got to the hotel she was going to.”

Anastasia’s jaw dropped. “Paul! Don’t just not tell me something like that as a joke!”

“Well, in my defense-”

“No, don’t start with that!” Anastasia scoffed. “Is there anything else I should know?”

“Probably, but I’ll let them fill you in on it.”

Anastasia rolled her eyes, and led Paul back to the road. From there, she called a taxi, and didn’t speak another word to Paul until they returned.

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My month of writing is going quite successfully (Read: not one word that wasn’t for school). How about yours?


Trials: Part Thirty Five

Content warning: Gore and Death


You are joining an ongoing story.

Click here for part one.

Ashley’s heart was racing. She had actually almost died, and she really wasn’t sure why she didn’t. She heard the gunshot, and she saw the muzzle flash. She saw Vanessa standing over her, with tears running down her face. She wondered if she was actually fine. She shook her head. This was not the time for panic.

Ashley jumped up from the ground. She looked down at Darryl and Jones bleeding out on the ground. She rolled Jones off of Darryl.

“Vanessa,” she began dishing out orders, “disarm him, and if he tries anything, stop him. I’m not letting anyone die!”

Vanessa looked startled for a moment, but nodded, and attended to Jones.

Ashley went to take a look at Darryl. “Darryl, can you hear me?” She lifted his head, but he wasn’t responding.

She felt his jugular, and he still had a pulse. She turned her attention to his wound. This was definitely beyond her skill to fix. It was bleeding a lot, even with the knife still in the wound. She hadn’t really had formal medical training, her parents were just both doctors, so she picked up some pieces along the way. As best as she could tell, if she left this alone, Darryl would die. She wasn’t really sure if it would work well to transfer the wound to herself. Figuring out how much to transfer to not kill either of them didn’t seem like a good option. If it came to it, she would save him, but they weren’t there yet.

“Vanessa, does Jones have a pulse?”

Vanessa went in to check. “Yeah, I think so. He doesn’t look great though. What about Darryl?”

“Vanessa, I’m not sure what to do…” Ashley shook her head. “I can’t just wrap this up, and I don’t think I could take just a part of the wound and say for sure that neither of us would die. I have one other thing I could do, but I’m not sure…”

“What is it?”

“Well, the thing is, I don’t just have the power to take wounds. I also have the power to give them, so I could hypothetically put all of the wounds on one person, but they’d definitely die.”

“Put them all on Jones!” Vanessa responded quickly.

“But that would kill him for sure!”

“He tried to kill you!”

“That doesn’t mean he’s bad! You heard his story! He had to do this!”

“Look Ashley. You can have two people that will probably die, or you can have one person who definitely dies. That’s your decision here.”

“What gives me the right to say who lives or dies?” Tears began to roll down Ashley’s face.

“Your powers! That’s what says you do! Do you want Darryl to die?”

“No! Why can’t I just kill myself?!” Her heart felt like it could explode at any moment. That had to be the right answer, to take all the pain herself.

“What would your girlfriend say? What do you want me to say to her, when I have to go tell her that she’ll never see you again?”

Ashley froze. She couldn’t do that to Arte. Vanessa was right. This was the only way to go. They needed Darryl. They could never break everyone out of the prison, and get them all to safety without him. She had to do it.

“I’ll do it.” Ashley nodded. She sat down between the two bleeding men, and grabbed both of their hands. She had never attempted this before, but it had to work. She knew it would, because it had to. She took a deep breath, and pulled the knife out of Darryl.

She began to pull Darryl’s wound into herself, while also pushing it over to Jones. She began to feel a pain in her shoulder, and saw some blood beginning to come out. She looked down at her other arm, and noticed her burn was going away.

The pain began to intensify. At first it felt like she’d just been cut, but now it was deeper than that. She had never felt anything like this before. She looked over and saw that Jones wasn’t bleeding from his shoulder yet. She began to panic. Would she have to take the whole wound first?

Vanessa knelt down on the ground in front of her, and placed her hands on Ashley’s knees. “You’ve got this.” She smiled confidently.

“It- It hurts so much! I don’t know if I can do it!” She began to sob. Darryls wound had to be deep, because the pain kept going deeper.

“Yes you can! I’m right here with you. I can’t take the pain for you, but I know you’ve got this!”

The pain kept getting worse, until it eventually reached a crescendo. Ashley cried out. She couldn’t believe Darryl had just taken this.

“Ashley, look!” Vanessa pointed to Jones’s shoulder. Blood was beginning to seep out of it.

Ashley felt joy for a moment, followed by disgust. She was rejoicing over someone’s death. She wondered if this was the right move after all, and winced. It had to be, because it was her only option. This was for Arte, for Darryl, and for everyone still trapped in that prison.

Eventually the pain began to alleviate. After a few moments, Ashley was back to normal. She smiled weakly, then fell forward onto Vanessa’s lap in tears.

“You did it Ashley.” She felt her hand rest on her head.

A few moments passed, and Ashley pulled herself up. She wiped off her face, and got to her feet.

“I’m going to take care of him. Keep an eye on Darryl.” Vanessa hugged her, and turned to Jones.

Ashley looked down at Darryl, and winced as she heard a wet cutting noise. She felt like she should be feeling more, but she just felt overwhelmed and tired. She shook her head, returned her attention to Darryl, and checked again for a pulse.

Once she found he had a pulse and was breathing, she turned to Vanessa, who was now beside her.

Vanessa wrapped her arms around her, and Ashley whispered, “Thank you…”

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Trials: Part Thirty Four

You are joining an ongoing story.

Click here for part one.

Zoey and Arte sat at a table in the Vanguard Mall cafeteria. Her heart was racing. Not only was she going to fight a super villain today, but she was also in public dressed like a Dayspring fan girl.

“Do I have to wear this?” Zoey pulled her coat over herself to conceal as much as she could.

“What? You don’t like it? I thought you said you were a fan of Dayspring?” Arte was clearly suppressing a laugh.

“Very funny. It’s embarrassing. I look like a kid, what if someone from school sees me like this?”

“Oh, come on. Nobody would recognize you, that’s what we did the makeup and the hood for. You worry too much.”

Zoey rolled her eyes. She just had to hope Jessica didn’t see this. There’s no way she wouldn’t recognize her. “Why do you get to wear normal clothes?”

Arte laughed. “Because, I don’t want to draw attention. Looks normal for you to wear something like that. People will assume you’re just a fan. Me wearing that would draw more eyes.”

“So in other words its embarrassing?”

“Why are you so worried about someone from school seeing you? Is there someone you like?” Arte poked Zoey’s arm over and over.

“No!” Zoey scrambled away and rolled her eyes. “It’s not like that…”

“While we’re on the subject, how is school going for you?”

Zoey sighed. Her classes were going great, but it hadn’t really gotten more enjoyable. At least Jessica had laid off the harassment, but now it just felt like she didn’t even exist. “It’s going good.” She forced a smile.

“Something the matter?”

Zoey’s heart dropped. That had always worked on her dad and any other adults who ever asked her that, how did Arte see through it that quick? “It’s nothing…”

Arte sighed and sat back. “You know, I don’t know if I told you this, but for the past few months, I’ve been all over the state looking for someone, so I’m basically a full blown detective now.” She took a sip of her drink. “What I’m saying is, I’ll go to your school and figure out what’s going on myself if I have to.”

Zoey almost jumped out of her chair. “No! You don’t have to do that, it’s fine!”

“I’m kidding.” Arte laughed, before pausing. “You know, you can talk to me, though.”

Zoey sighed. She wondered if someone older than her might actually be able to help. “Well, there’s this girl. She used to pick on me a lot, but now she knows I have powers. I’m not sure what’s going on. At first I thought she was scared of me, but I don’t think that’s it…”

Arte was about to say something, when she suddenly jumped out of her chair, and in front of Zoey. She fell over sideways, and Zoey jumped up.

She looked around and saw Dayspring floating in the air above a fountain. Her heart sank. This was the impostor. She had to do something.

“Citizens of Atlanta. This is my mall now, and you have ten minutes to get the hell out!” He laughed in a way she had never heard Jude laugh.

People began to scramble out of the food court, and Zoey turned her attention to Arte. She knelt down beside her, and turned her over.

“I’m fine.” Arte shakily stood to her feet. She had a burn on her arm, and Zoey froze. “Go get him kid. I’ll be right behind you.”

Zoey nodded, and turned towards the impostor. He was floating above the fountain, surveying the chaos around him. He looked like he was enjoying himself.

Zoey’s whole body was shaking, but she pulled her hood up and began to walk towards him. She had the training, and Jude said she was ready. Arte wouldn’t have let her do this if she wasn’t ready. Zoey looked back and saw Arte coming up behind her. She was holding her arm, but she didn’t look scared at all.

She was about half way to him, whenever he locked eyes with her.

“Who’s this? A fan?” He floated down towards her, and noticed Arte as well. “A fan and her angry mom?”

“You need to stop!” Zoey shouted, as assertively as she could muster.

“Are you going to make me?” He laughed for a moment, then looked back at Zoey. “Oh you are, are you? You’re serious? A kid in a costume is going to take down Dayspring! And your mother is okay with this?”

Arte stood her ground and glared at him. Zoey couldn’t help but not how calm and cool she seemed. She really believed in her.

“Alrighty then.” He turned back to Zoey. “So what’s your plan? The power of friendship? Are you going to talk me into being good again?”

“I have powers too, you know!” Zoey shouted. She had finally managed to get her body to stop shaking, but her heart was still racing faster than it ever had before.

“Oh, boy!” He did a twirl in the air. “You have powers too? Well then, it seems we have a duel on our hands.” He grinned, and floated down, until he was on the ground, about ten feet away. “I am a gentleman, so I will allow you the first shot.” He closed his eyes and held his arms out.

Zoey took a deep breath. This was just like in training, and all she needed to do was… She began to panic. She had no idea how she was going to stop someone with Dayspring’s powers. She had salt. That was it.

“Come on, hit me with all you’ve got.” He smiled, his eyes still closed.

Zoey looked over to Arte, who nodded. She took a deep breath, and wound up. She materialized some salt, and threw it at him with all her strength. Her heart sank as she felt it crumble in her hands. She watched as a hail of salt went over the man.

For a moment, nothing happened. Zoey saw Arte take a step forwards, but suddenly the man collapsed to the ground. Zoey took a closer look, and saw that he was no longer Dayspring, but instead a scrawny white teenager. He tried to get to his feet, but Arte was already on top of him.

He laughed nervously, “Hey, take it easy! It- It was a practical joke! Yeah-” He looked up and met eyes with Arte. “Okay! I’ll tell you everything I know! Please, I had to do it! He made me!”

“Tell it to a judge.” Arte looked into the crowd and waved a couple of police officers over. She then looked over to Zoey, and smiled. “I told you you could do it.”

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Apologies for the delay! WordPress did some scheduling shenanigans again. Really am trying to work this out, my bad.

Trials: Part Thirty Three

You are joining an ongoing story.

Click here for part one.

Darryl sat alone by a dying fire. He sighed in contentment. Being around kids that weren’t crazy was really refreshing. He wondered if he did actually have anyone still alive back home, or if he could really still call that place home. Is a place still your home when you abandon it for twenty years? When you left it vowing to never return? Were the mistakes of a boy forgivable?

The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. Something was coming. He jumped to his feet, pulled out his gun, and whipped around. There stood Jones, wielding his own pistol.

“I see you’ve been getting on well, Darryl.” His smiling face was faintly lit by the fire.

“Yes. I appreciate you sparing my life.”

“Well, as I’m sure you’re aware, Takeo wouldn’t. I made a mistake, but that works out in your favor.” He sighed, and began to slowly pace around camp. “I want you to come back with me.”

Darryl kept his gun trained on him. Jones was trying to get him to reveal where the girls were sleeping. He glanced over to a nearby bush, then back at him.

“If you want me to come back with you, make a gesture of good faith, and give me your gun.”

“Wouldn’t it make more sense if we both just lowered our guns?”

“Don’t try that with me Jones. I know what you can do.” Darryl glanced over at the bush again, then back to Jones. “You with a knife puts you on an even playing-field with me with a gun.”

“Fine.” He lowered his gun and approached.

Darryl backed away, keeping the same distance between them. “Nope. Put it on the ground.”

Jones rolled his eyes and slowly crouched down, leaving the gun on the ground.

“Now back away.” Darryl almost glanced at the bush, but stopped himself.

“As you command.” Jones backed away until Darryl was finally at the gun.

Darryl kept his gun and eyes trained on Jones, and picked up the gun. He knew it was loaded with blanks, but he held it pointed behind him.

“Alright, Darryl. You have my gesture, now I want something from you. Where are the girls?”

Darryl swore. “How’d you know?”

“I know you think you’re smart and all, kicking up dirt to cover the pink glass, but it’s not enough to fool me.”

Darryl slowly moved the gun from behind his back to in front of him, and leaned up against a tree. “Well, I hate to tell you this, but they already left. If you go on down the river, you might be able to catch them.”

Jones sighed and shook his head. “Darryl, I’d hoped you’d be honest with me. We already established that you’re not smarter than me.”

In a flash Jones was gone. Darryl took a shot with the gun loaded with blanks, then tossed the other about a foot in the air and caught it.

“Keep hidden!” He shouted.

There was a blur, and Jones was back where he stood before. “Well, I guess you are smarter than I gave you credit for. You were giving me a fake tell, so that you could wake them up.”

Darryl smiled, and began to move away from him, while keeping both guns on him.

“So, since tonight is your shift, who is covering for you, while you go take care of me?”


Darryl nodded. That was good news. Gaines was supposed to fill in if they both couldn’t, but Gaines would report the situation. Dmitri on the other hand, could be persuaded to silence. That meant Jones was here in secret.

“It’s a shame Darryl. I really did like you, and I was actually going to give you a chance to come back with me today. What would make you side against your friends for the sake of these monsters? More importantly what did you think you’d accomplish?”

“You know what they’re doing is wrong, you’re a good man, Jones. I intend to stop it. You could join us. With the three of us, we could easily take them.”

“You know I have to keep this job, Darryl. I’m so close to paying off my debt, and that won’t happen if I let you go.” He shook his head. “I have to do this.”

“What of the reward money that the government would give you for defecting?”

“You know very well they would arrest us both if we went to them.”

“I want you to know I really did like you too.”

“As much as I’ve enjoyed our final conversation, I think you know it’s time to end this.” He began to move towards Ashley’s hiding spot. “You know, I’ve been studying where you were walking, and I think I’ve figured out where one of them is…”

Darryl sprinted over between him and Ashley.

He saw a blur, and suddenly one of his guns was missing. Jones stood over Ashley with the gun pointed at her. “That was a clever trick you did with switching the guns, but when will you learn I’m smarter than you?”

He and Darryl fired their guns at the same time. He knew Jones would close in to Ashley to dodge, so he fired a foot off from him. Vanessa leapt out of her hiding spot and ran towards Ashley.

Jones crumpled to the ground, and Darryl approached. He glanced over to Ashley, and saw she was fine. Definitely shaken up, but fine, and Vanessa was making sure of it.

He suddenly had a sense of impending dread. He tried to raise his gun, but couldn’t get to it in time. He felt an impact in his shoulder.

Jones collapsed forward onto Darryl, knocking both of them to the ground.

Darryl looked over, and saw a knife jutting out of his shoulder. He couldn’t quite feel it yet but it looked bad.

“Sorry…” Jones wheezed. His face was blank, but a single tear flowed down.

“I am too.” Darryl said, before shooting him again.

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Happy day before halloween!

Trials: Part Thirty Two

You are joining an ongoing story.

Click here for part one.

Jude sat in the kitchen with Deven and Ashley. It was already Friday, and Arte said Zoey had’t made any noteworthy improvement after the first day. He had faith in Paul, and if Paul said Zoey could take him, he trusted him. However, that still didn’t mean he didn’t want someone there to provide backup. He was doubtful that Daniels would approve all three of them to go, but he figured he could get at least one of them there. Paul had also been remarkably unspecific when he said to go to ‘the mall’ on Saturday. He wasn’t sure what mall, or when Saturday to be there.

Deven seemed to be eager to get out of the house. He said something about wanting to go to a gardening store to get some new seeds.

Jude’s phone began to buzz. Arte and Deven both went silent, and Jude picked up the phone.


“Yeah, this is Daniels. Why do all three of you need to be at the mall tomorrow?”

“Well, Zoey, the neighbor girl, has a big test today, and we wanted to take her out to celebrate.”

“Alright, but isn’t Arte the one tutoring her?”

“Well, yeah, but-”

“So wouldn’t it make more sense for her to take her out?”

“Well, I mean, we all know her though, so-”

“Alright. It sounds to me like you just want an excuse to get out of the house. I’ll approve Arte for tomorrow, but that’s it. I don’t want you or Deven to be out while the impostor is still at large.”

“Come on, it’s been like a week and a half-”

“That’s my final decision. Goodbye Jude.” Daniels hung up without another word.

Jude lowered the phone and sighed. While this was about what he was expecting, it was still getting to him to be stuck in the house so much. He wondered if Daniels would ease up or double down after they caught the impostor.

“Well, that didn’t exactly sound like good news. What’d he say?” Arte asked.

“It was about what I expected. He only approved you, Arte.”

“No!” Deven shouted and slammed his fist on the counter, leaving a dent.

Arte jumped back, and Jude stood up. He needed to defuse this quick.

“Hey, Deven, I know you’re upset, but-” Jude started

“No! She always gets to leave! She’s left every day! It’s not fair!” Deven was panting now, and swatting at the air.

“Deven, you have to understand-” Jude edged closer, and narrowly dodged a swing of Deven’s arm.

“No! I want to leave! I hate this house!”

“I know…” Jude edged closer again, and Deven watched cautiously. “But I’ll be stuck here with you, we could-”

“No!” Deven swung his arms wildly, and Jude went flying into a cabinet, knocking it off the wall and sending plates flying.

Jude looked up, and saw Arte standing over him. She looked panicked. He stood up and dusted himself off. He was surprised at how little that hurt. He figured it was most likely shock, because that had to have at least broken a rib. He gave Arte a firm pat on the shoulder, and as comforting of a look as he could.

“No! I want to go!” Deven shouted.

Jude had an idea. After the last incident with Deven during the house raid, he realized that he was going to need to be prepared to deal with super powered tantrums and meltdowns, so he did some research.

He went to the fridge, and ignored Deven’s shouting. He pulled out a box of leftover pizza that he had ordered a couple of days ago, and put two pieces in the microwave.

“What are you doing?” Deven was still panting, but had stopped hitting things.

Jude grabbed a plate that was still in tact from the wreckage of the cabinet, and pulled the pizza from the microwave. He moved the plate over to the island, picked a piece up, and began eating.

Deven approached, and looked down at the pizza.

“Do you want some?” Jude asked as casually as he could. His heart was racing, but this was the best plan he could muster.

Deven thought for a moment and then nodded.

“Alright.” Jude slid the plate over to Deven, and ate his own slice.

After a couple of minutes, Deven and Jude had both finished their pizza. Jude looked to Deven, and saw that he had calmed down considerably.

“Alright, tomorrow, you and I will order a fresh pizza, and have a movie day.”

Deven nodded.

“I know you wanted to go to the mall too, but after Arte takes care of this with Zoey, we’ll be able to leave the house again, okay?”

Deven nodded again.

Jude was aware that he very well could be wrong about that statement, but he wasn’t sure how long he could keep this up. Deven was getting just as stir-crazy as him, and something was gonna have to change. After this, Daniels would just have to understand.

Jude was about to start cleaning up the wreckage of the cabinet, but heard the doorbell. He went to the door and saw a man with a package. He opened the door and smiled.

“Hey, delivery from Mr. Smith.” The man handed off the package. “Also, he mentioned that you had noticed some bugs around the house. I’m really an exterminator,” he winked, ”And he wanted me to take the package with me. More efficient I guess. Now a bad time?”

Jude looked behind him, and shrugged. “About as good of a time as any.”

“Alright, I’ll run out to my car real quick, and me and my coworker will take care of it. Those bugs won’t know what hit ‘em.” He winked again, and ran back out to the car.

Jude sat the package on a table, and opened it. Inside was a some kind of white uniform. It looked similar to his Dayspring uniform, but it was smaller, and had some kind of armor on parts of it.

“Thank you, Mr. Smith.” He muttered, before replacing it in the box. “Arte, Zoey’s present is here!” He called into the house.

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Apologies for last week’s post being delayed. They rearranged the scheduling calendar on the wordpress site, so I’ve pressed the wrong day a few times! This one’s definitely good on my end, so hopefully it’s posted Friday at noon.

Hope you enjoyed. I don’t do the after-post bits every time, but things are starting to ramp up, so if you’re just joining us and debating on whether it’s worth it to read the backlog, trust me, it is! Have a great weekend.

Trials: Part Thirty One

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Click here for part one.

Vanessa, Ashley, and Darryl all sat by the fire. Darryl had prepared a stew out of some meat that he hunted, and some herbs he had found. While it wasn’t gourmet, it was much better than Ashley had expected. They ate carefully using some pieces of one of Vanessa’s disks as utensils. Having full stomachs now, everyone seemed to be in far better spirits. She was certainly thankful for that.

“So, Darryl, where are you from?” Ashley asked. He had something of an accent so she figured he had to be British or Australian.

“South Africa.” He nodded.

“Oh, wow.” She nodded. “Vanessa and I are both from Atlanta. Well, I was actually born in New York, but yeah.”

Vanessa shot Ashley a look, as she said that she was from Atlanta. She wasn’t quite sure what she did wrong, but she mouthed ‘sorry’.

“So how did you get your ‘training’, or whatever that guy was talking about?” Vanessa asked. “Were you in the military or something?

“I was in the military for a little, yeah. Then the British took a liking to me, so they took me to train for an ‘off the books strike team’. That was what they called it.” He scoffed. “I did that until they were done with us. I learned that off the books meant that when we had done our jobs, we didn’t get a pension or decent wages. So I had to do contract work. From there, you know the rest.”

“That’s awful what they did to you…” Ashley shook her head. “Do you have a family?”

“Well, I couldn’t tell you.” He looked down and shook his head. “I haven’t been home, or heard from my parents in over twenty years. I don’t have a wife and kids or anything, if that’s what you meant.”

“Oh, I’m sorry…” Ashley was quiet for a moment. It seemed like they were just digging up bad memories for him. Her parents always loved her, and she had always had them. Sure it was a little rocky when she came out, but they came around eventually.

“Well, you girls are young. What do you have waiting for you in Atlanta?”

Ashley winced a little, she’d been trying to avoid that topic. She figured she should stall as long as possible, and gestured to Vanessa.

Vanessa sighed, and looked over to the fire. “I’m not even sure what’s waiting for me… I stormed out, and said I was going to go ‘find myself’. My boyfriend broke up with me, and went on a vacation with another girl. It’s also kinda weird how many connections my dad has from this place, so I’m not even sure what’s going on with him.” She wiped her eye and looked back to them. “Yeah, I’m kind a mess.”

“Well, speaking from experience, if you’re not happy with how you left things, you should probably go fix them.” He shook his head. “My mother tried to stop me from leaving, and I said some awful things to her… I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again, so don’t carry regrets with you.”

“Yeah. I know I should… I guess I have to get back first.” They all went silent again. “Well, what about you Ashley? You went quiet.”

Ashley wiped a tear from her eye. She really hadn’t wanted to think about this, so she felt like an idiot for bringing up the question. “Well, I guess I don’t know what’s waiting for me… I had a great girlfriend, but I’ve been gone for so long she’s probably found someone else. I’ve probably lost my job…” Ashley looked up and realized what she said. Her face went red, and her heart was racing.

She was trying not to say that. Arte had always told her she needed to be more careful who she outed herself to. Her heart raced and tears started flowing down her face. She heard Vanessa get up, and she tensed up. She felt an arm around her.

“Hey, it’s alright,” Vanessa said. “You’re an amazing person, I’m sure she wouldn’t give up so easily. If you’re worried about your job, I’m sure my dad can take care of it.”

She over at Darryl, and saw he hadn’t moved, and looked unfazed. “Do you guys not-” She sniffled, “Not care that I’m gay?”

“That doesn’t change anything as far as I’m concerned.” Vanessa hugged her.

She looked over at Darryl, and he looked mildly surprised. “Oh, me? I grew up in South Africa during apartheid. I travelled the world, and saw that we are all human. There is no sense in discriminating on things.”

Ashley leaned into Vanessa, and couldn’t help but laugh a little. She knew they were good people, so there was no need to worry after all. After a few minutes, she pulled herself up, and wiped off her face.

“I guess we should talk about what we do now, huh?” Vanessa said, looking off into the fire again.

“Well, we got lucky coming out by a river. If we follow it downstream, we should eventually find a city, or the ocean.” Darryl nodded.

“Yeah, but what about all the people still in the prison?” Ashley asked. She was glad to have made it out, but wasn’t ready to abandon the people in there.

“That’s a good point.” Darryl nodded.

“Well, but right now, nobody knows about it. So if we were to go in, and we were to fail, then nobody would get to go home.” Vanessa replied.

“Well, the thing about that is that since we escaped, and they won’t find our bodies in there, they will realize we have gotten away. After that they will have to move the prison. Depending on how fast we move, they might not have time to move everyone, but at least half of those people in there would have no chance then.” Darryl shook his head. “That’s if anyone survives Takeo’s wrath when they figure it out. I figure we have at least a couple of days before they figure out we’re gone.”

“He’s right…” Ashley shook her head. “We have to go back.”

“I think you two should go downstream. You’re young, and you have lives waiting for you back home.” Darryl looked off into the woods. “I’m old, and I have nobody waiting for my return. Not to mention your lack of combat training.”

“Well, actually, I have some combat experience. Not like you, of course, but I did a little bit of superhero work.”

“Well, that settles it.” Ashley got to her feet. “We’ll all go. That gives us the best odds.”

“Alright, well, I won’t turn down the help.” Darryl stood as well. “However, I’d suggest you go to sleep. I will take watch.”

“Wake me up to switch off with you at some point, Darryl.” Vanessa stood and looked around for a second. “So where are we sleeping?”

Darryl laughed. “Find a patch of dry ground that looks soft. Some people like leaves for cushion, I prefer dirt. Less pokey.”

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Trials: Part Thirty

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Arte sat on the concrete floor of Zoey’s unfinished basement. Her dad had said this would probably be the best place to train, since he wasn’t too worried about sweeping up salt from it. She was reading Jude’s notebook, but it honestly seemed like it was all common sense. She thought he had said he was a professional trainer for some rich guy’s daughter, so she assumed he would know what he was doing, but the instructions were more or less as follows:

First, see what she has already gotten down. Second, get her to be able to make a rock out of salt. Third, see if she can make the rock go faster than just throwing it. Fourth, see if she can make a salt sword? Maybe a wall of salt? If you run into any problems just think of it in a different way.

Arte sighed. She had honestly expected something more detailed. It looked like she was gonna need to start from scratch. Jude had some good goals. Ideally, if Zoey was gonna fight someone with potentially any power, she would need offensive melee and ranged capabilities, along with some form of defense. It might be a challenge to get all of that together in four days. She didn’t trust Paul’s statement that she didn’t even need training at all. She couldn’t believe that guy was going to be her last bet to find Ashley.

“Alright, Zoey. To start off, I want you to show me everything you’ve worked out so far.” She pulled out a pen to take notes.

“Alright. It’s not gonna be very impressive.” She gulped, and took a deep breath.

Zoey took a step back, and concentrated. A rock of salt began to form in her hand. After about thirty seconds, she had one the size of a baseball. She shifted her grip, and the whole thing fell into dust.

She sighed and hung her head. “Ta-da.”

“That wasn’t bad! It’s not like your powers came with an instruction manual.” Arte got to her feet. She felt bad for the girl, because Arte’s powers had, in fact, come with an instruction manual. “Can you do it again?”

Zoey nodded, and repeated the process. This time it stayed for a second before falling apart.

Arte nodded. According to Jude she needed to ‘think of it in a different way’, whatever that meant. She thought back to her chemistry classes. Salt, as a crystal, forms an intricate lattice, so it would naturally take time to construct. Zoey seemed to be taking her time and concentrating, so if it was going to be useful by Saturday, that had to be the wrong approach. She couldn’t believe Paul was giving them three days to do this.

“Alright… So when you try to make a larger crystal, it looks like you’re straining yourself. I think I have an idea.” She pulled out the notebook. “So when you want to draw a straight line, it’s usually best to just take one quick stroke, than to take your time and try to draw the perfect line. When you take too long, you end up with a squiggly line, instead of something almost straight. So it’s possible that your powers are like that. Why don’t you try loosening up, and doing it quickly?”

“Alright…” Zoey took a deep breath, and swung her arm, like she was pitching a softball. Something solid flew out of her hand, and made a crack as it hit the wall. It clattered to the floor, and broke into a few large pieces.

Arte picked one up and examined it. It was an opaque chunk of solid crystal. She tried to crush it with her hand, but it held up. Arte smiled with satisfaction. “Take a look at this.” She placed the crystal in Zoey’s hand.

“Alright! I did it!” She jumped up and down with excitement. “I’ve been trying so long! I didn’t think I’d ever figure it out! Thank you so much!” She wrapped her arms around Arte.

Arte was caught off guard, but reciprocated. “Hey, it’s you doing the work, I’m just over here talking.”

“Alright, what now?”

“Okay, so I want you to try to make something bigger. Like a wall big enough that you could hide behind it.”

“Gotcha…” Zoey crouched down, and put her hands on the ground. She sprang up to her feet, and two separate towers of crystal formed.

Arte was about to congratulate her, but noticed Zoey was starting to stumble back. She ran up behind her and caught her, as she began to fall back. “Are you okay?”

Zoey slowly looked up to Arte. Her face was red. “I’m fine, just a little light headed.”

“Alright, let’s call it there, and maybe we can get back to this tomorrow.”

“Okay.” She got to her feet, and took a couple of steps, before stumbling and being caught again.

“How about I carry you upstairs, okay?” Arte scooped Zoey up in her arms and made her way to the couch upstairs. She was nearing the edge of her stamina, but made it just fine. She gently laid her on the couch, and took a seat next to her.

Zoey regained consciousness, and started to sit up, but Arte stopped her.

“Hey, it’s alright. Just lay back down. I think your dad left, but I’ll stay with you.”

“Thanks.” Zoey yawned.

“I’m sorry, I think I pushed you too hard. We’ll keep it small next time.”

Arte waited by her for a few minutes, and she seemed to have largely recovered. She got up from the couch and went towards the kitchen. “Alright stay there, I’m going to make a couple of phone calls.”

First she called Zoey’s dad, but he didn’t pick up. She called him again, and after he didn’t pick up, she left a message.

“Hey, Mr. Rodriguez. This is Arte. I just wanted to let you know your daughter fainted while we were training, I think I pushed her too hard. She’s fine now, but I’ll stay with her until you get home.”

She then pulled out her notebook, and dialed the second number. It rang for a moment, then someone picked up.

“David Smith, who’s this?”

“Hi Mr. Smith, I’m a friend of Jude’s, and I’m helping him with this case. He wanted me to let you know we’d need a couple of favors…”

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Trials: Part Twenty Nine

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Click here for part one.

Vanessa climbed onto a large pink disc, and carefully floated upwards. She had to move around some to avoid trees, but before long she was above the treeline. She looked out and saw green trees as far as she could see. She had hoped there would be some kind of civilization, or that they’d at least be able to see the prison, but there was nothing. Not too far from her was a hole in the trees. She couldn’t quite make out what it was, but hoped it would be water or someone’s house. She took note of what direction it was in, and floated back down.

She saw Darryl and Ashley, waiting patiently on the ground.

“So, what did you see?” Darryl asked.

“There’s no cities or anything nearby, I can’t even see the prison from here.” She shook her head. “There’s something not too far from here. It might be water, or something.” She pointed in the direction of the clearing.

“Alright. Let’s go, then.” Darryl began to walk, but stopped in his tracks. “Can I have one of my knives? I want to mark a tree, so we can find the pit if we need to.”

Vanessa shook her head. “We’ll leave a trail, like we did throughout the cave.”

“I’m not sure about that, someone could follow us.” Darryl replied.

“I’m not sure about giving you a weapon, so this is our best bet. Nobody will follow us.” Vanessa led on to the clearing.

They walked for about thirty minutes, until they reached the clearing. The forest was overgrown here, and it was difficult for them to make their way through the brush. They finally arrived at a river. It was about twenty feet wide here, but seemed to narrow about a hundred feet upstream and downstream.

Darryl approached the water’s edge, and stared into it. After a moment, he dipped his finger in, and tasted it. After a moment he nodded, and smiled. “Fresh water, this is good. I will get a fire going.” He started to move, but paused, and turned to Vanessa. “Actually, before that, I want to know why you do not trust me. You read my mind, and saw my story was true. What do you want?”

“I don’t know…” Vanessa looked to Ashley. “What do you think?”

“He’s always been nice, but you’re the one who read his mind. Was he telling the truth?”

Vanessa looked off to the side. He was telling the truth, but she couldn’t stop thinking of all of the ways he could betray them. Especially if they let him have his stuff back. It was possible that this was all a trap set by Takeo. On the other hand, it sounded like he had some amount of survival skills, which she certainly didn’t have. They probably couldn’t make it without him.

“Alright, fine. You’re right. I trust you.” She nodded. She had to, or else they didn’t stand a chance.

“Alright. Good.” Darryl nodded. “I am going to get a fire going. Can you make anything besides a disc out of the pink stuff?”

“No…” She shook her head. She’d tried before, back in training with Jude, but they were never able to make any other shapes.

“When you break it, it turns to glass though, yes?”

“Well, I don’t know that it’s actually glass, but something like it, yeah.”

“Good. While I’m getting a fire going, I want you to see if water passes through it when it isn’t broken.”

“Okay?” Vanessa went up to the river, and made a disc. She dipped it in, and saw the water go around it. “Nope, water doesn’t pass through.” She called back to him.

“Great. Give me a few minutes.”

Darryl cleared off the dirt, and made a pile of dead pine needles, with a triangle of wood around it. He also made a decently large pile of sticks off to the side.

“Alright, give me a disc.” Darryl held out his hand, and Vanessa gave him one.

Darryl looked up into the sky, and held the disk over the pine needles. After a few moments, the pine needles began to smoke. Soon enough, he had a small fire going. He looked to Vanessa, “Alright, I need you to go cut some firewood using your powers. Pick any of the smaller trees and cut it so they won’t fall on you. Do it over there so they don’t fall on me either, I will call if I need you.” He turned to Ashley. “You help her, and bring me wood as she cuts it.”

After about an hour of work, Vanessa had cut a good stack of firewood. She was about to start on another tree, when she heard Darryl.

“Vanessa, come here! I need your help.”

“Coming!” She made her way back to camp, and saw that Darryl had a good sized fire going. It had been a bit since they came out of the cave, and she was starting to get really thirsty. “I appreciate the fire, but could we maybe get some water?”

“Well, first we have to purify it, since just drinking that,” he pointed to the river, “could kill you from dysentery.”

“Alright, how do we do that?”

“First make a disc that’s about two feet wide. Then I want you to hover it over the fire. I want to see if we can get it to melt into being a bowl.” Darryl stepped back from the fire.

Vanessa complied with his request, and hovered the disc over the fire. After a while, the center started to droop.

“Alright, now move it off of the fire…” Darryl moved out of the way. “Towards the river, but don’t put it in.”

A few minutes passed, and the disc drooped a little more, then stopped.

“Alright, now gently lower it in…”

Vanessa gently lowered it into the river. The water sizzled as it made contact, and eventually it was fully submerged. After a few moments, Vanessa levitated the disc out of the water, and back to shore.

“Great! We have a bowl!” Darryl smiled. “Now, we need to fill it up about halfway with water, and bring it to a boil.”

Vanessa groaned. She was so thirsty, but if this would get her water, she would do it. The sun was starting to get lower now, and by the time she had the water boiled and cooled, it was almost dark. They all drank up, and sat around the fire.

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Trials: Part Twenty Eight

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Arte laid back on her bed and sighed. This was definitely not how she was expecting this to go. She went to Jude for help finding Ash, and now she’s on house arrest, and helping Jude clear his name. She’s also about to start training an actual child on how to use superpowers, in order to send her to fight someone, because they were all on house arrest. She was amazed that Jude was not only on board with this plan, but that he came up with it.

Jude said that she had to be the one to actually train Zoey, because it seemed more believable for her to go over to Zoey’s regularly than for him. She told Daniels that she’d be tutoring her, and he seemed to buy it. He gave her approval to go over every day for a couple of hours.

She wondered if she was ever gonna find Ashley. At this rate, it didn’t seem like it. Even if Paul came back to help, it wasn’t like she could actually leave the house. How was she supposed to find her if she was on house arrest? She wondered if it was a mistake to even come here, but stopped herself. It was too late for worrying about it now. She was here, and this was her circumstance. She could deal with it, or not, and she needed to deal with it.

She heard a knock on her door and opened it. It was Jude, and he had a notebook in his hand.

“Good luck tutoring!” He smiled, and handed her the notebook.

She skimmed the first page, and saw Jude had left her a to do list. He wanted her to make a couple of phone calls. One as soon as she got there, and some others after. She looked at the first name and number, and Arte’s heart skipped a beat. She was finally going to be able to talk to Paul, and make some progress on finding Ash. A thought popped to mind. Why hadn’t they just called him to begin with? He had to have a reason, but still. She shook her head, she didn’t have time for this right now. “Well. I guess I’d better get going.”

“Yeah, it’s about that time.” He moved out of the doorway. “See you!”

Arte made her way over to Zoey’s house, and knocked on the door. After a few moments, Mr. Rodriguez answered.

“Arte, come on in! It’s good to see you.”

Arte smiled and entered the foyer. She was surprised to see him so happy about this. Actually, she was surprised that he was even partly on board with this idea.

“Zoey isn’t here yet, but please make yourself at home.” He led her into the den, and sat in an armchair across from her.

“Sorry, but do you mind if I ask how you’re okay with Zoey doing superhero stuff?”

“Oh, yeah. That probably sounds a little strange.” He nodded. “Well, I hold a philosophy that once a kid is of the age that they want to do something, they’re just going to do it. You can either be with them and make sure they’re staying safe, or they’ll sneak around you and get hurt. I’ve known for a while about her powers, but I was waiting for her to tell me. I’m just glad she’ll get some proper training before she gets hurt. As far as danger goes, when I was 14 I was working in a factory where people died on the job every week.”

“Wow. I wish I had parents with that philosophy…” Arte recalled the time that she was literally thrown out of the house for getting a short haircut. Her dad picked her up, and tossed her out the door. She came back to reality and remembered what Jude had said. “Oh, would you mind if I made a call? They probably have our phone bugged, so we’re trying to keep this low-key.”

“Sure, the phone’s in the kitchen.” He pointed in the direction of the kitchen.

Arte went to the phone, and pulled out the notebook. She took a deep breath and punched in the number. It rang for a moment, and someone picked up.

“Hello?” A man replied. It sounded like he was somewhere in public, she could hear people talking in the background.

“Hi, is this…” She looked down at the notebook again, “Paul Darbyshire?”

“That’s me. Who’s this?”

“Hi, I’m Arte, I’m friends with-”

“Arte with the short hair and undercut, living in a room with my keyboard and computer?”

Arte stammered for a moment. She wondered if Paul had the place bugged, or if he was just that good. “Yeah? How did you know that?”

“That’s a long story. Which thing are you calling about?”

“Um…” Arte paused for a moment. “Well, my friend, she’s gone missing, and-”

“Yeah, your girlfriend? With the brown hair?”

“Yes?” Arte’s heart was racing again. If he knew who she was, he had to have seen her.

“Is that the only thing you’re calling about?”

“Well, no. There’s also this problem. Jude and I are on house arrest basically, and there’s an impostor super running around. There’s this girl in the house next door-”

“Hispanic, young teen, salt powers?”

Arte scoffed, who was this guy? How did he know everything? “I’m sorry, but the interrupting is kinda obnoxious.”

“Sorry. I have to be careful what I tell you, and I don’t want to waste time. Let’s see…” He paused for a moment and sipped something. “Alright, your girlfriend is fine. Well, she’s not fine, but there’s nothing you can do about that yet, and she’s fine enough.”

“Wait, what?” Arte’s heart felt like it was about to explode. “You know where she is?”

“No, but I will. Anyways, you did just say interrupting was obnoxious. Use the salt girl, she’ll be fine. Send her to the mall this Saturday. She doesn’t even really need training for this. Is that all? I need to get going soon.”

“Wait, I have so many questions!” Arte couldn’t just let this guy hang up.

“Look, if I tell you anything else, then things won’t go right for you, and I won’t get falafel. You also forget that you’re basically a stranger to me. Bye”

The phone clicked off, and Arte stared down in disbelief. What the hell was his problem? What did he mean she didn’t need training?

“Dad, I’m home!” Zoey called from the foyer.

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I have my new stuff up and running now. WordPress has changed its editor too, so I’m also learning that. Please let me know if anything is off about this, or any of my other posts. I think I’ve worked out a new system, but can’t quite be sure. Anyways, hope you enjoyed!

(Art credit: WordPress Free Photo Library)

Trials: Part Twenty Seven

You are joining an ongoing story.

Click here for part one.

Anastasia had been heading up the cleaning project for what had to have been at least a month. She had to devote most of her attention to managing the project, but she had finally carved out a day to do some digging. She had Siobhan use magic to disguise herself as Anastasia, in order to throw off any suspicion. She wasn’t sure how much Adara would approve of her poking around, so she had to be careful. Coombre had spent some of his downtime managing to locate what he called a secret section of the library. Most importantly they had both sworn to keep quiet.

Anastasia donned a hooded robe, and made her way to the library. She had been before, but it was still amazing. She had never seen so many books in one place. There were four floors, and all of them were packed with shelves so tall that you needed a ladder to reach the top. Anastasia was surprised that there were even this many books. She had perused some of them before, and there was every kind of book imaginable. They had fiction that she recognized, textbooks, and books in languages she’d never seen. Not all of it was books, some of it seemed to be research put in binders.

She found Coombre standing by a shelf of cookbooks on the first floor.

“Alright, where’s the ‘secret section’?” She asked. She didn’t see anything of note here, so she wondered what he was doing standing here.

“I found it while I was poking around. I saw a book that looked to be sticking out a little, and when I went to fix it…” He stretched up and pushed a book into the bookcase. The bookcase began to slide downwards, eventually revealing a doorway.

They went in, and saw a medium sized room, with about twenty bookshelves and a large desk in the middle. The desk didn’t have anything on it, except for the dust which had accumulated. Anastasia opened one of the drawers and found a menagerie of writing utensils, everything from charcoal to a normal pen. She opened another and found a bunch of scrolls. She wiped off part of the desk and unrolled one, but it looked to be blank. Another drawer had a collection of empty journals. They all looked handmade and unique.

She turned her attention to the bookshelves. They looked just about as dusty the desk. Many of them looked like they were in Arabic. She found one shelf that had a row of journals that looked like the ones she had seen in the drawer. She pulled one off, and placed it on the desk. She opened it and saw a picture on the first page. It looked old, She flipped it to the back and saw it was dated 1968. It was of Adara and a white soldier.

She looked at the journal itself and swore. It was written in Arabic.

“Hey, Coombre. You don’t happen to speak Arabic do you?”

He walked over and took a look at the book. He placed it back on the desk, and gestured for Anastasia to back up. He closed his eyes, and began to say something she couldn’t understand. After a moment, he opened his eyes again, and stood there for a moment.

“So, can you read Arabic now?”

“No, I just took-” He stopped himself and shook his head. “It would take too long to explain, but I know what the book says now.”

“Oh, wow. What does it say?”

“It is a journal. It tells of a young girl who found herself lost in a monastery when a green light hit. It tells of this as though it was something recalled from long ago. The monastery was in a different place. It says she spoke a little English and found a soldier who gave her some food. It seems that they may have had a romance. She lived in the monastery and he came to visit her, but then one morning the monastery was in a different place again.” He closed the book, and went towards the shelf. “Would you like me to read another?”

Anastasia was about to reply when she heard a loud noise. Her heart almost stopped. She span around, and saw Adara clapping in the doorway.

“I see you’ve been busy.”

“Adara-” Anastasia began.

“I’m impressed that you found this place so quickly.” She stepped in and looked around. She ran her finger along one of the shelves, and looked at the dust on her finger. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in here.”

“I’m sorry for poking around.” Anastasia bowed her head.

“It’s not a problem. Your thirst for knowledge knows no bounds.” She walked over to the desk and took a seat. “You had questions, and you sought out answers on your own, with no heed for consequences. I certainly didn’t expect you to actually trust Coombre and Siobhan to help you.”

“I knew I couldn’t find what I was looking for without help. I assume they told you?”

“I’ll leave that to your imagination, but have faith in your allies.” She paused. “So, are you satisfied? Are your questions answered?”

“Not really.” Anastasia shook her head. “I’m still not sure what the green light actually was, and how does Jean play into this? Was he the soldier?”

Adara laughed. “First you will have to make a choice. Your leadership skills are excellent, and your curiosity unceasing. If you want your questions answered, I would love to have you remain with me. We can unravel the mysteries of the universe together.”

Anastasia’s jaw dropped. She couldn’t believe that someone wanted her for something like that. She’d never been smart, so this was out of left field. She thought about it for a moment, but she had a suspicion that there was a catch. “Would I have to leave my friends?”

“I’m afraid every choice has a cost. You would likely never see them again.”

Anastasia’s mind raced. She couldn’t leave Paul, Jude, or even Vanessa for that matter. She had found friends who stood by her. She couldn’t abandon them now.

“Thank you for your offer, but no. I’ll seek out the secrets of the universe with my friends by my side.”

“Very well. You still have time to change your mind.” She got off the desk and moved towards the door. “Be sure to leave the monastery by sunset, or else you will have your choice taken away.” She stopped right before the door, turned around, and smiled. “Goodbye, Anastasia.”

“Goodbye, Adara.”

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I have my new stuff up and running now. WordPress has changed its editor too, so I’m also learning that. Please let me know if anything is off about this, or any of my other posts. I think I’ve worked out a new system, but can’t quite be sure. Anyways, hope you enjoyed!

(Art credit: WordPress Free Photo Library)