If I didn’t have a purpose with the utmost importance, I may have fainted when she opened the door! This was it! The moment I dreamt of for so long had finally come to fruition- I would finally be able to save the world! The concept of having a more peaceful and positive society in the works seemed too wonderful to be true, and for a minute, I thought I may have proven that idea accurate! When I pictured this encounter, I imagined that the Guardian I would speak to would have a sagacious expectation of my arrival, or sometimes I envisioned them feeling overjoyed to receive my partnership for such a crucial matter. It threw me off completely when neither scenario came to pass…
“If you think I’m going quietly, think again!” she bellowed.
“Uh…” I got so stunned by her combative response that I became at a loss for words! That was the second time that day she had this effect on me, but both were for entirely different reasons! When I saw her down by the creek, she seemed very calm, composed, and even a little scared, but now she bore a rage so intense that I could practically feel the heat coming off of her body! The deep scowl she had now changed her visage completely! She looked mean, ruthless, and vaguely familiar… “Do I know you from somewhere?”
She spat, “Is that a joke? Must you mock your prisoners in the process of taking away their freedom?” Prisoners? She had me completely baffled, and she could sense my genuine bewilderment too. She followed that statement with, “Oh, you’re not kidding!” Her expression softened as she inquired, “You don’t know who I am?”
I shook my head and replied, “No, I don’t, but I’d like to. May I come in?” She eyed me suspiciously, and I worried that she would refuse my request, but then she abruptly stepped aside from the entryway and gestured for me to go inside, which I did without hesitation!
When Patty described this structure as a shed, I expected to see a bunch of dust on the floor and gardening supplies everywhere else, but the place had a spotless appearance and very little material objects! I saw an old cot and a table with a couple of boxes on them, but not much else! I could tell she had been living there, but it struck me as odd to see no personal effects strewed about her shelter! I wondered if she had gotten there more recently, which would have explained the lack of personality to her abode, but it mystified me as to why she didn’t dwell in the cottage with her grandmother! Adding all this to her expectation of getting arrested, I started to realize that the problem that Patty mentioned may have been bigger than I anticipated! I didn’t know how to broach the subject with her though. I had consulted with hundreds of people in regard to their legal issues, but not a Guardian! Not a Guardian who I counted on to save the planet! Not a Guardian who saved my life! She did something truly heroic, so how much trouble could she really have had in store for her?
Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to cook up a way to break the ice with her, she did it for me! “Who wears a suit in the woods?” she remarked.
“I had a bad day at work, and I came to Sylph’s Hollow to relax.” I omitted the part about my quest to find a Guardian to rescue us all. It seemed like the sort of thing that a person should tactfully be led into; if I had straight-up blurted out that I needed her to play a massive role in a tremendous undertaking, I probably would have overwhelmed her enough to reject my proposal!
“So, you were out here trying to unwind?” she probed. “You weren’t looking for anything?”
I assured her, “Well, I was searching for something, but not you. I mean, not you specifically. It’s complicated, I don’t know where to begin…”
She offered, “Let me get you some tea.”
I couldn’t resist gawking at her unexpected hospitality, but I agreed to her suggestion. She pulled a mug, a small pellet, and a jug of water out of one of the boxes, and then she placed the pellet inside of that mug. As she poured the water and it became hot tea, she recommended, “I have some bread for you too. Grandma made it from scratch, she’s not a fan of New Food.”
“That sounds delicious, but I don’t need anything to eat,” I politely declined.
“Yes, you do!” she disagreed. As she handed me the tea and a slice of bread, she stated, “Trust me, I’ve dealt with enough hungry people to recognize them when I see them!”
Honestly, I hadn’t sat down for a meal since breakfast early this morning, so my stomach probably was empty, but with everything that had occurred that day, I didn’t have much of an appetite! She appeared pretty insistent that I nourish myself though, and she had a force behind her that made me afraid to defy her, so I accepted her gift. “Thank you!” As I bit into this fare, my senses instantly transported me to repasts from my childhood! I forgot how tasty naturally made sustenance tasted! “This is good!” That made her smile slightly, and I felt a warm gratification for having had that effect on her! She seemed like such a kind person, so it confused me as to how she could have landed herself in a position that would have caused her to fear imprisonment! Well, it did until I remembered Mister Atman from this morning. “Be careful when you feed the hungry! I had a client that got convicted of a felony ‘cause he fed homeless people. The judge said he was running an unlicensed charitable organization, which is such complete bullshit! Sorry, excuse my language!”
She shrugged off my obscenity. “I’ve heard worse. So, you’re a lawyer? Is that why you came here? You were looking for new business?”
“No, I’m a public defender. Cases come to me, I don’t need to go fishing for new leads,” I clarified for her. “Although I am licensed to practice law, I could represent someone in court if I wanted to, but I don’t want to do that. I came to Sylph’s Hollow to…” I knew I would have to confess my motives for pursuing her sooner or later, so I decided the time had come for me to account for my actions. “Ever since I was a kid, things have gotten worse and worse. The natural disasters were destructive, but the people in charge did so much more damage than the environment ever could have! The only people who are prospering are the ones who enjoy the suffering of others, and regardless of how hard good citizens try, they can never seem to win against this evil. Gloom is spreading, and none of us have the power to stop them, but someone out there does! I thought if I could discover who this individual was, I could persuade them to save the earth from doom!”
“I’m not the Arch Deity,” she told me before I even had the chance to enquire about it. My face contorted in doubt, so she insisted, “I’m really not! It physically hurts us to lie, so I don’t do it if I can help it.”
Admittedly, it disappointed me to hear that, but I wasn’t going to give up so readily! “But, as a Guardian, you must have a way to find the Arch Deity if you wanted to!”
She countered that logic with, “Normal Guardians probably could, but I can’t help you! I can’t go back to the city, not with a target on my back!”
“You mean ‘cause you’re wanted by law enforcement?” I pried. “You can always fight in court…”
“Oh please!” she differed. “You’re a public defender, tell me how often you’ve seen that work!”
I grew sheepish on that one. I already divulged to her that I came to Sylph’s Hollow due to a bad day in court, and I mentioned the details regarding Mister Atman’s case, so she could probably gather how often I emerged victorious from the judicial system. I certainly wasn’t about to admit that to her though! Once in a while, if someone truly was blameless, we would successfully get a ruling in their favor. I had no inkling what she was getting accused of, but I remained absolute in believing in her innocence! She looked and behaved like an angel, so whatever charges they had against, I was certain she could beat them! “It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen! And you’ll spend your whole life hiding if you don’t at least make an attempt to-.”
She cut me off by saying, “What makes you think I’m not guilty?”
“Well, I… Okay, so I don’t know for sure what you did or didn’t do, but… You’re a Guardian! A Guardian, not a Fallen! You can’t be bad!” I argued.
“Psh! You’re the only one who thinks that!” she reacted in vitriol. “You and Grandma, I should say. If I gave you my name, you would have a totally different opinion of me!”
I sincerely doubted that! Whatever her true identity was, I couldn’t fathom thinking less of this saint-like woman! She may have been a little curt, but my instincts were infallible when it came to people’s characters, so I knew with every fiber of my being that learning her name wouldn’t alter my admiration for her! “Not possible! If you tell me, I swear my opinion of you will stay the same!” She hesitated, so I extended my hand and introduced myself, “I’m Jack Devante! And you are…?”
Her frown became more pronounced, and that feeling of familiarity struck me again! I knew I hadn’t met her until today, but it seemed like I might have seen her somewhere before- not in real life, but perhaps in a magazine or on television somewhere. But if she had any kind of celebrity status, I thought that I would have recognized her immediately! Besides, every star I knew took work as often as they could thanks to the unpredictability of our economy, so none of them would have even the smallest desire to isolate themselves in the forest like that! I considered that, here and there, a notable figure would commit a crime and possibly make themselves obscure, but the only person who fit that profile right then was…
“No way!” I cried out in disbelief. “You can’t be… Violet Harlow?” She hung her head in a way that denoted confirmation, and my jaw dropped! Violet Harlow didn’t match the impression I got of the woman who rescued me in the woods! Violet Harlow was an incredibly snobby and ill-tempered billionaire, and while her fashion empire, Rebels of Hollywood, did a lot of good for the world for creating more inclusivity for body types that usually got neglected by the industry, her personality was so abrasive that nobody liked her. Plus, she got accused of a terrible misdeed, and I hardly thought that this beautiful Guardian was capable of such an atrocity!
“See! Now that you know, you don’t want to have anything to do with me!” she ardently pointed out.
I emphatically denied that, “That’s not true!” She made a noise of cynicism, so I elaborated, “I mean it! That girl I saw in the media with overly glamorous makeup and a hostile attitude, that’s not who I see in front of me now! You’re not really who you pretended to be, are you?” I really did speak honestly, and in the off chance that she presented facts to prove otherwise, I would have gotten absolutely crushed! I was relieved to see my assertion prove correct (but not pleased that she was hurting) as she buried her face into her palms and shook her head. I now grew incredibly perplexed! Why would a human being with such a huge capacity for altruism shield herself behind such a callous façade? It appeared agonizing for her to even discuss it, but I was so utterly dumbfounded that I simply had to get to the bottom of this! “Why would you, out of everyone, treat people like that?”
She unwillingly disclosed, “I had to once I entered their world…”
“Whose world?” After the words lift my lips, something dawned on me. “You mean the Fallen? Were you trying to take them down?”
“Aren’t you gonna ask me if I committed the murder they’re accusing me of?” Violet posed to me.
I reassured her, “Nope! I’m positive you didn’t do it!” She gazed off in a different direction with a regretful expression, and although I hadn’t shifted my assessment of the situation, I fretted for a second that I may have judged her incorrectly, so I felt compelled to ask her, “Did you kill that guy?”
Violet hollowly replied, “I’m the reason he’s dead.”
“But did you kill him?” I interrogated her.
“It doesn’t matter! Everyone already decided I’m guilty!” she sadly pronounced.
I saw some validity in her argument, but I wouldn’t say it out loud to her! Not only did I stumble across a more honest set of facts of the affair, but I could tell there was more to the story than what she gave me, so I dug in deeper, “Why won’t you give the world the true version of what happened? Yes, some people may not buy your explanation, but someone out there killed your servant, and they’re walking free right now! Somebody needs to pay for this, but it shouldn’t be you! Who really did it?” She refused to reveal anything, and I could see her tensing up as the incident came to the forefront of her mind. I had seen that happen with defendants before, and it usually indicated that they were scared to anger someone more powerful than them, which prompted me to query, “Was it a Fallen?”
She didn’t speak, but her body language certified the accuracy of my theory! This may have made the issue more difficult, but I rejected any notion of giving up! I had gotten others to fess up the real account of what took place, and I resolved to do it again! Somehow! I couldn’t deploy any of those tactics yet though. I could sense a great fear brewing inside of her, and I needed to offer some comfort to inspire her first. I reached out to give her a reassuring pat, but then…
The door burst open, and a police officer barged in! “Mister Devante, you’re coming with me!”
“You’re arresting me?” I exclaimed. “Why? How did you even know I was here?”
“No, you’re not under arrest. You have government property, so your boss had us check the GPS to locate you and bring back what belonged to them,” he stated to me. It disturbed me that my boss had been tracking me this whole time, but I got incensed that he was forcing me back to the office! Prior to me getting the chance to react to that, the officer eyed Violet and petitioned her, “Are you who I think you are?”
Violet glared at me, and even though this turn of events wasn’t my fault, I still caused her great distress, so it was my responsibility to make it right! As the policeman cuffed her, I avidly vowed to her, “I’m gonna fix this! Hire me to represent you, and I promise, I’ll get you your justice!” As he dragged us away, Violet’s face casted such uncertainty, and that sight really burned me up! The odds were against me, but I was adamant that I would obtain victory for her one way or another!