Daphne, Nick, Tater, Lionel, and Heathrow all stood before the jade fence. Heathrow gave it a loud knock, and they waited patiently for someone to respond. After a minute or so, Charlie poked his head out of the small window above the knob, and he nearly jumped from the shock he received from the sight of them. “My word! You’re still alive?”
“Yeah! We’re just as surprised about that as you are!” Nick remarked.
“I bet! Speaking of bets… Hey, Henry! I owe you twenty bucks!” Charlie ducked back down, and the front entrance swung open.
Heathrow queried, “Did he bet that we would…?”
Daphne recommended, “Don’t look too much into it! Let’s keep our focus on getting in and out so we can all go home!” She mulled over that sentence, and then she apologized to Heathrow, “Oh, right! Sorry!”
“You must be excited to go back home to Kansas, California!” Lionel supposed.
“Sure…” Daphne’s stomach lurched at that notion.
Nick probed, “That is what you’re wishing for, isn’t it?” He gazed at her with hopeful eyes, and she couldn’t give him a reply. She visually scanned over her companions and then all of the friendly employees of the Emerald City’s Center, and suddenly, she didn’t feel so certain about anything! All that she wanted was to get a dangerous killer off of the streets, and now that she had done that, she realized that she was jobless and directionless again. She possessed a purpose during her stint here, and since her quest came to an end, she would return to exactly where she was in the beginning! Her newly acquired acquaintances and the harrowing journey she endured changed her though, and at the present moment, she didn’t know where she wanted to go from here…
The five travelers approached the stage with far less apprehension than their previous visit. Heathrow called out, “Your excellency! We’re back!” A brief pause ensued, and Heathrow beseeched him, “Aw, come on! Don’t make me go near the fire again! I’ve had enough of that today!”
Without the theatrics in this instance, the Emerald Angel manifested onto the platform. “Why have you come back so soon? Didn’t I tell you that you couldn’t do that until you had the Ochre Angel’s cellphone?”
“You didn’t say we couldn’t come back without it!” Nick contended. “You simply said we wouldn’t prove we were worthy of getting your gifts without it!”
“Do not play semantics with me!” the Emerald Angel roared. “I set my terms, and you did not follow them! Whatever reason you entered my quarters is moot! I’m denying your requests, and-!”
Daphne held up Whitney’s cellphone and differed with him, “But we did get her cellphone!”
The Emerald Angel’s eyes widened upon this revelation. “Is that…? Did you…? You really got it, huh?”
“Yup! But, then again, you already knew that, right?” Daphne glimpsed at him suspiciously. “You told us you know everything!”
“Do not question my prowess!” the Emerald Angel bellowed. “Your colleague’s quarrel merely confused my perception.”
Lionel petitioned the Emerald Angel, “So, you’re gonna grant our wishes now, correct? Cool! I’m so excited! There’s a tournament I wanna register for, so I’m ready to get my courage now!” He did a few boxing moves in anticipation of this occurrence.
The Emerald Angel austerely announced, “The matter requires further contemplation! Come again in the twenty-four hours!”
After a collective outburst from everyone as they drank in this bitter disappointment, Daphne vociferated, “Twenty-four hours? That wasn’t part of your terms! You said we’d get our wishes after we brought you the cellphone!”
“Don’t argue with me, chippy!” the Emerald Angel grumbled. “Twenty-four hours is still after you brought the cellphone in, isn’t it? You’re lucky I don’t force you to wait longer than that! This is a complicated situation, and it requires more deliberation!”
“What’s left to deliberate?” Daphne shot back. “You mandated us to get this device from her, and we did! Now, it’s your turn to hold up to your part of the bargain!”
The Emerald Angel huffed, “And I shall! Provided that I can authenticate your claim…”
Daphne held up the phone closer to him and persisted, “Go ahead and study it! You’ll see that we’re telling the truth!”
“Don’t get sore with me!” the Emerald Angel snapped. “Don’t you understand that most of my beneficiaries have gone through months of processing and vetting? You guys are total strangers to us, and yet we allowed you onto the premises and gave audience to your requests! Regardless of how long I have you wait, you’ll still receive your wishes faster than all of my other clients!”
“And we’ve also done more than all of your other clients!” Daphne disputed. Tater began chasing a cricket as she spoke, but she ignored him. “How many of your clients had to battle a fallen angel to get their wish granted?”
The Emerald Angel bickered, “Excuse me, but everyone is fighting a battle in their own way- do not seek to diminish what they’ve been through!”
Daphne refuted that argument, “I’m not diminishing their experiences, but we nearly lost our lives on a venture you convinced us to go through! I’m sure others have been through extraordinary hardships too, but ours stemmed from circumstances that you created! It’s not like we were like, ‘Oh, battling an evil being with supernatural abilities- that’ll be a laugh!’”
“Well, I kinda did until, you know, the whole near-death escapade!” Heathrow interjected.
“That ordeal scared the bejesus out of me!” Lionel put in. “I did it ‘cause I thought it meant something to you, but apparently, I was fooling myself!”
The Emerald Angel eyeballed Tater nervously as his bug-hunting grew closer to the curtained area on the right, and he assured his human visitors, “I’m not belittling anything you’ve done! You just don’t seem to understand that I can’t solely rely on a person’s claim! I will consider your story, but if I don’t have the evidence to back it up, how am I supposed to accept it as truth?”
Daphne pushed the cellphone closer to him, and she asserted, “All you need to do is inspect the property we’ve brought you, and you’ll see that we weren’t lying! None of us are good enough techies to have faked something like this! Come on!”
“Leave it on the steps, and I’ll take a gander later,” the Emerald Angel directed her.
“Why can’t you do it now?” Daphne challenged him. “It doesn’t seem like you have any appointments any time soon, and it’ll only take a minute!”
The Emerald Angel offered, “Why don’t you return to the beauty salon and finish your makeovers? You must be tense after such a grueling episode, so relax! Soothe your aching muscles and jangled nerves as you soak in the luxury! Then, go out and properly celebrate your victory! We can provide beds if you’d like! Then, after a decent recovery, you will be able to come back and fully enjoy the next chapter of your life!”
Daphne declined, “I don’t need any more spa treatments! I need you to take this cellphone and give us our requests!”
“How long does it take for a feline to catch its prey?” the Emerald Angel posed to them as Tater remained in hot pursuit by the curtains.
“You’re changing the subject!” Nick observed. “Why won’t you take the cellphone from her?’
The Emerald Angel folded his arms in defiance. “Because I do things on my own accord!”
Heathrow suggested, “Well, then grab it and do it in whatever fashion you choose!”
The Emerald Angel still refused, so Lionel chimed in, “Dude, you’re making this more complicated than it needs to be!”
“Did you seriously call me dude?” the Emerald Angel scoffed.
“Sir! Your honor! Your majesty! Whatever you like to be called, take the freakin’ phone!” Nick demanded.
The four people erupted in a chorus of clamoring for him to obtain the device, and he got so taken aback by this that he didn’t notice the insect deciding to roost on the curtain. Tater hopped onto the curtain, and to his alarm, he knocked the entire structure down! As he zoomed away from the fright, the contents once hidden revealed themselves. Daphne and the others expected to find old furniture or unused equipment, but what they didn’t expect to find was…
An elderly gentleman with wispy, white hair and bright, green eyes stood at a small table with a laptop on it! He looked very startled and very familiar to Daphne! Other than avoiding eye contact with everyone, he didn’t seem to know what to do, and eventually, he decided to speak into his headset. At precisely the same juncture, the Emerald Angel commanded, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”
“Okay!” Heathrow very willingly obliged. Nick swiveled him back to facing the elderly gentleman, and his brows furrowed. “Huh? Who are you?”
“He’s a fraud!” Daphne alleged.
The Emerald Angel stood firm, “I am no fraud! I’m the great, the powerful, the legendary…” The elderly gentleman realized the futility of his grandstanding, so he lamely finished, “Emerald Angel of Vegoz.”
Lionel questioned, “So, are you holding the real Emerald Angel of Vegoz captive somewhere, or…?”
“No, no, no! I may have engaged in a bit of deception, but I’m no criminal!” the elderly gentleman defended himself.
“How do you make time for this deception between teaching college classes and heading the anthropology department of USCK?” Daphne interrogated him.
The elderly gentleman informed her, “You must be thinking of my cousin, Professor Morgan Frank. I’m the reason Almira took a position there! Of course, she had no clue about my true nature- she was using him as leverage for me to not interfere with her activities on the East Side. I got the impression that she was beginning to view this practice as pointless, which is partially why Whitney decided to off her. I could never prove that though, which is why I wanted you to retrieve the cellphone…”
Nick vehemently exclaimed, “You’re not getting it now! Not only are you a terrible person for tricking everybody, but you’re not even a real angel! You can’t do anythin to help anyone, so-!”
“My boy, you have me all wrong! I haven’t been honest, but it was all for a great cause! I couldn’t stand by and witness all of the suffering of the world, and it occurred to me just how many people could solve each other’s problems simply by connecting with one another. Take the Hickory family that I recently met with- so many hungry individuals come to me begging for food, and the Hickory family came to me begging for assistance in their efforts to feed hungry individuals! I aimed to make a business out of this concept, but no investors showed interest in financing Oswald Frank’s idea. I invented the Emerald Angel character, and all of a sudden, I had everyone’s respect! They even dropped the Oswald part- I was simply the Emerald Angel, a powerful divinity! I’ve lost count of all of the philanthropic feats that the ‘Emerald Angel’ has pulled off! The ‘magic’ is staged, and the stories about his accomplishments are phony, but isn’t it worth it to help so many individuals out?” Oswald entreated them.
“Maybe for everyone else, but you can’t help us out!” Daphne morosely articulated. “That’s why you sent us on that mission, huh? You were hoping it’d be too impossible for us to pull off!”
Oswald refuted, “Actually, I have a higher purpose for that. You see,, I may not possess paranormal gifts, but I have an advanced knowledge of technology. In my crusade to go beyond our depth of understanding of the universe, I accidentally invented a gadget to communicate with the Heavens! They watched the cyclone that killed the Crimson Angel, but they could not prove that Whitney purposely got her sister annihilated. I hoped that getting a hold of this would show some admission of guilt so that the Heavens would strip her of her powers. I seems more important than ever at the present- who knows what would transpire if someone removed Whitney’s shackles!”
Daphne hesitated. “That is a wonderful cause, but we went through a lot to obtain this, and we won’t get anything out of it except for the satisfaction of doing the right thing! Which is fine and all, but still!”
“You want your wishes?” Oswald surmised. “Listen, just because I can’t do magic doesn’t mean I can’t make magical stuff occur…”