“Where did it go?” a man with silver hair, dark brown eyes, and a neatly combed goatee thought out loud while he watched a computer screen in his office. A young woman in a nice pant suit came to his doorway and saw that not only had he taken off his jacket but he rolled up the sleeves on his dress shirt, which had sweat stains under the arms. Coupling that with the look of intense concentration on his face, the woman didn’t think it was a good time to come in. Before she left, the man had apparently seen her from the corner of his eye because he invited her, “Allison, come look at this!” She went over to his desk and looked over his shoulder at a radar image. He pushed play and pointed at a dot. “That’s their plane right there.”
She watched the dot move across the screen, and when it got about halfway across, the dot suddenly disappeared. “That’s where the plane crashed?” she guessed.
He told her, “Our naval base searched these coordinates and couldn’t find any sign of it. An hour later, I called Agent Knight, and he answered it. That means somewhere between when we lost the plane on the radar and when I made that call, the plane crashed. Given the window of time and the speed they were going, their plane should be somewhere in this area.” He pulled out a map and circled an empty stretch of ocean. “We used every piece of technology and every spell possible to search the area and couldn’t see a thing! They would have to be somewhere on the west coast because I don’t think Emily knows how to teleport. I guess the killer could have done it, but then where did the plane go?” Allison shrugged, and Alastair groaned in frustration.
After a moment, Allison warily informed him, “Sir, Agent Dulcie is on the phone.”
“Great!” He went out of his office into a large room full of desks with people either typing things up, talking on the phone, or performing various spells. Alastair hurried over to Allison’s desk and picked up a call that was on hold. After putting it on speakerphone, Alastair formally greeted her, “Hello, Agent Vendari speaking.”
“Agent Vendari, this is Agent Dulcie with the FBI,” Agent Dulcie replied. “I sent over footage of the mini mart that Captain Lefevre purchased his beverages from. She found it confusing, perhaps you can make sense of it.”
Alastair responded, “I’ll take a look.”
Allison pulled up the file of an airport store, and they watched the area where the drinks were stored. A scantily clad, red haired woman walked over to the case and put her hands on two cans. She then took away every energy drink but the two she put her hands on. Captain Lefevre entered in the store and picked up the only two energy drinks he saw in there. Allison put the call on mute and remarked, “Clearly, she used a penetration spell to put the Curse of the Serpent’s Tongue in them. I just don’t know what to tell Agent Dulcie. She’s a cose, and I don’t think she’s been briefed about our abilities. She keeps referring to the potion as poison. Should we tell her?”
Alastair mulled it over for a bit and then unmuted the phone. “Without being able to examine the cans, we don’t know for sure how she injected the poison into his drink, but from what Agent Knight described, she definitely did it somehow. The other two didn’t… get sick, so it had to be from those drinks. Were you able to get any leads on who the woman is?”
Agent Dulcie reported, “We’ve been searching our records and can’t find anything. We think she might be an Amouraqian citizen.”
“I’ll have my people search our databases.” Alastair watched the security footage again, and when he saw the red haired woman walk in, he asked Agent Dulcie. “What part of Seatac is this store located at?”
“The south satellite,” Agent Dulcie answered. “Oh, that means she had to go through security, which means she had an airline ticket! If we can figure out what flight she was scheduled for, we can search the company’s finances and get a clue on her identity!”
Alastair requested, “Yes, and see if you can find out if she actually boarded the plane she was supposed to be on.”
Agent Dulcie complied, “I will. I’ll forward my findings to your office as soon as I get them.”
“Thank you.” Alastair hung up the phone.
“Do you really think a sorceress would get on a commercial flight?” Allison inquired.
Alastair sighed, “I really hope so! It’d be a lot easier to find out where she went!” He studied the red haired woman’s face and concluded, “She’s not an heir. I’ve seen their profiles so many times that I’ll never forget what they all look like! Since she’s not an heir, then why does she want to hurt our kingdom?” Allison shook her head sadly, and Alastair let out a deep exhale in exasperation.
Stephen and Emily walked down a narrow dirt path in total silence. They were both too afraid to make a sound in fear that they would attract one of the deathly creatures that the tree warned them about. From the way the tree described the forest, he expected the pathway to be teeming over with monsters, but so far, they hadn’t seen a single one. Stephen would have been entirely grateful if they made it to the other side without seeing a single one, but he doubted that they would luck out like that. He would have preferred to have all the beasts that wanted to kill them come out at once, but it didn’t seem likely at this point. All he saw was a variety of leafy green trees, lush fauna, and the warm but not hot sunshine making everything glisten. If they weren’t forewarned about the dangers of these woods ahead of time, he would have gotten lulled into a enjoying the majesty of Amouraq’s natural beauty! The gun he held in front of him looked thoroughly out of place against the backdrop of the scenic landscape, but he wanted to stay ready for the inevitable ambush. He wasn’t entirely sure if his weapon would be effective against the supernatural animals of the forest, but he had to try.
It felt strange to have the person that he’s supposed to protect walk in front of him, but he deemed it prudent in this situation because of her magical expertise. Her instincts were completely correct about the bunyip, so he hypothesized that she must have done a lot of studying in the wake of all the murders. He didn’t think she anticipated coming here, but he imagined she read and reread her father’s spell book dozens of times, so he wondered if she had some insight on what to expect out there. He didn’t want to raise an alarm for her by speaking; ever little noise made them jump, so he didn’t want to cause her anymore distress. However, they had traveled for quite a bit of time already, and he knew that at any second, something would attack them. If she had any kind of knowledge about what they may encounter and how to defeat it, he needed to know beforehand. So, very quietly, he asked her, “Do you know what sort of things live out here?”
She softly answered him, “A lot of things you’ve heard of in myths and fairy tales, and there’s some things maybe you haven’t heard of. Hundreds of different species could be out here. I have no idea which ones he would use.”
“I guess that makes two of us!” Stephen joked, which made Emily grin slightly as they moved into a heavily shaded part of the forest.
The grounds they traversed weren’t totally dark, but the lack of sunlight bothered Stephen. It seemed like exactly the type of hiding spot where something precarious would hide. He thought he was just being paranoid until all of a sudden, they heard the sound of giant wings flapping over their heads! Stephen ran to Emily and stood with his back against hers, and they both scanned the skies for the perpetrator of the ominous din. They didn’t see anything above them, and Stephen couldn’t spot anything along the road or in the nearby foliage. He felt certain that whatever it was hadn’t left, so he stayed alert and ready to fight. Suddenly, a giant, ferocious, bat-like creature pounced on them! Stephen’s gun got knocked out of his hand as they got pinned to the ground! The creature tried to snap at them, but Emily swiftly chanted, “Slodidium!” It now moved at them in slow motion.
Stephen cried out, “Now what?”
“It’s skin can’t be broken,” Emily quickly recalled. “There’s only one way to defeat it… what was it?”
As its massive jaws inched closer to him, Stephen prodded her, “I don’t wanna tell you to hurry, but if I don’t, we’ll never see the light of day again!”
“The light of day… That’s it!” Emily waved her arms over her head and chanted, “Lumenia Totalius!” The heavy shadows created by the trees were suddenly covered in a very bright light that made the monster shriek as if it were in great pain. In an instant, it turned into stone!
They were both glad it was dead, but the new density of the already heavy creature now became even heavier! They were both gasping for air, but Emily managed to point at it and weakly chanted, “Rupe!” To their relief, it broke into several small pieces. They pushed the pieces off of themselves and sat up to collect their breath. As Stephen collected his gun, Emily apologized, “Sorry, I’m not so good at this rescuing thing!”
Stephen firmly assured her, “But you did rescue us, that’s all that counts!” Emily smiled gratefully. Stephen then inquired, “What was that thing anyways?”
“A gargoyle,” Emily replied.
“I’ve heard of those!” Stephen remarked. “Not that it would have helped much in this situation! I don’t remember them being described like that!” Emily chuckled, which made Stephen enjoyed to hear. At such an extremely hectic time, he hoped that his humor calmed her nerves a little. He picked himself up, and Emily followed suit. After they dusted themselves off a bit, Stephen commented, “Well, that’s one monster down!”
Emily concurred with his sentiment, “Now onto the next one!” And with that, they continued on their way.