"Is this even a road?" Zanner asked from the back seat.
"Barely. It's a dirt road." Agent Roberts answered, then added, "If I'm going to be staying in Kentucky, I might need to think about getting a four-wheel drive."
"What do you think the chances are that they're going to try to jump us and kill us when we get there?" Zanner asked nervously.
"I wish that I could tell you that it's not possible, but the truth is, we need to be on our guard and ready to defend ourselves. If there's anything that you can do now to prepare yourself, you should do it."
"I'm tapped into the Earth through Dex, so right now I can call on more power than I've ever had before."
"See if you can think of a few spells that might be handy to call up in a fight. If these people attack, don't hesitate to use them." Agent Roberts suggested.
"Remember that you guys are the ones that they're after. We're expendable to them. You don't have to worry as much about being hurt." Filipe added from the passenger seat.
"I wouldn't count on that too much. In the heat of battle, people sometimes lose their ability to reason. I agree that they won't initially target Dex and Zanner, but that doesn't mean that they'll be safe."
"I'm more worried about you and Filipe. They don't have any reason not to hurt you." Zanner said frankly.
Before Agent Roberts could offer any words of assurance, he saw the car ahead of him passing through a wrought iron gate.
The gate in the middle of nowhere seemed somewhat pointless, but Agent Roberts was aware that even though it wouldn't stop anyone determined to get through, it still served as a marker to establish the boundary of the property.
He slowed the car as he passed through the open gate and caught a glimpse of the cutout silhouette of a raven being the only ornamentation. The sky flashed with light for an instant, then a moment later rolling thunder could be heard in the distance.
* * * * *
"At least we don't have to hike to get there." Filipe said as they continued to thump and bump down the nearly nonexistent road.
"That's not for sure. We aren't there yet." Agent Roberts cautioned him.
"Yeah. Don't jinx it." Zanner called from the back seat.
"Are you guys all powered up and ready for battle?" Agent Roberts asked with concern.
"I think I'm as ready as I'm going to get." Zanner responded, then asked more quietly, "Filipe, if things get really bad, do you think that you'll be able to protect Agent Roberts?"
"Yeah. You keep Dex safe and don't worry about us. I've learned a lot since I've been working with Paul."
"Let's just hope that it doesn't come to that." Agent Roberts said anxiously.
"Is that where we're going?" Filipe asked as he pointed ahead of them.
Agent Roberts spotted the first buildings being illuminated by Mr. Ingram's headlights just as Filipe pointed them out.
"It looks that way." Agent Roberts finally responded as he noticed that Mr. Ingram's car was driving into the overgrown and seemingly abandoned town in the middle of nowhere. There were no lights on in any of the buildings, nor were there any street lights.
Although the buildings didn't appear to be falling down, neither did it appear that they were being maintained to any measurable degree.
* * * * *
There was silence in the car as Agent Roberts slowly followed Mr. Ingram through the center of town.
Although he didn't say as much, he half expected for someone or something to jump out in front of them at any moment.
Once they were through the town, they continued on toward the last vestiges of the setting sun. The only visible structure in the distance before them was in silhouette, peeking up over the treeline that they were approaching.
"We're not going there, are we?" Filipe asked with dread.
"Actually, I think we are." Agent Roberts said regretfully.
The general shape of the silhouette made Agent Roberts uneasy as he began to speculate about what they might be about to encounter.
As they got closer, his worst imaginings were confirmed to be true.
Unlike the buildings in town, the church that they were approaching wasn't made of wood. It appeared to be built entirely of stone and the Byzantine architecture looked like something transplanted from a far different time and place.
The church was overgrown with moss, weeds and trees, looking every bit as abandoned as the town had been. However, much like the buildings in town, it didn't appear to be in such a state of disrepair that it was in danger of collapsing in on itself.
Before Agent Roberts could come up with any words of assurance for Filipe... or for himself, for that matter, Mr. Ingram brought his car to a stop.
"Agent Roberts? Have you ever seen any horror movies?" Zanner asked quietly.
"Yeah. I've seen a few." Agent Roberts admitted as he pulled in beside Mr. Ingram's car and brought his car to a stop.
"I feel like we're in one right now." Zanner said honestly.
Just as Agent Roberts opened his mouth to respond, lightning flashed behind the church's steeple. A moment later there was a rumble of thunder as the rain began to intensify.
When the burst of rain had lessened to the point where he could speak over it, Agent Roberts finally said, "Zanner. You're a witch. You've not only got magic, but you've got Dex, who can supercharge you. We're going to go out there and do what we have to do. If anything or anyone threatens you, I want you to blast the ever living shit out of them. Do you understand me?"
"Yeah. I got it." Zanner said as he tried to get his nerves under control.
Agent Roberts nodded once in his direction, then reached in front of Filipe and popped open the glove box.
As Filipe watched, Agent Roberts took a clamshell case out and opened it. He quickly and efficiently inserted one of the six clips into the pistol, then squirreled away the other five in his pockets.
Filipe stared wide eyed as Agent Roberts put the case away.
"Good. Then let's do this." Agent Roberts said firmly, then opened his car door.
* * * * *
Agent Roberts barely noticed the rain falling on him as he kept most of his attention on Mr. Ingram. By the time it had registered, Filipe was at his side and the rain once again was falling away from them.
"Archdruid Highley should be inside." Mr. Ingram said as he walked toward Agent Roberts' car trying to shelter himself under a pitifully crippled umbrella.
"Let's wait for the others, then we'll go with you." Agent Roberts said as he watched Mr. Ingram's companion hurrying away from them, toward the church.
"Christine is going on ahead to let the Archdruid know that you're here." Mr. Ingram said as he followed Agent Roberts' gaze.
"Now that we are here, what do you expect us to do?" Agent Roberts asked firmly.
"Just come inside and speak with the Archdruid. He will let all of us know what needs to be done next." Mr. Ingram said urgently.
"Mr. Ingram, if anyone under my protection is hurt in any way, I will be extremely upset and I will hold you personally responsible. Do you understand me?" Agent Roberts asked as he looked Mr. Ingram in the eyes.
"Yes. I believe I do." Mr. Ingram choked out.
"Good." Agent Roberts said, then glanced around before saying, "It looks like that's everyone. Lead the way."
* * * * *
As the group stepped through the entryway and past the twenty foot high doors, they entered the much dimmer church sanctuary.
Agent Roberts stopped in his tracks and drew his gun when he spotted the shrouded figures sitting silently in the pews of the church.
As he cautiously approached the nearest one, he began to suspect that the person before him wasn't a threat. One more step made him reasonably sure that the person wasn't alive, and might not be a person at all.
He lowered his gun, but kept it in hand as he surveyed his surroundings and counted nine other shrouded 'sculptures', either sitting in pews or standing at the back of the sanctuary.
"Do you think we can hurry up and get this done so that we can get out of here? I'd really like to leave." Filipe asked from Agent Roberts side.
"I'll do my best." Agent Roberts assured him in a whisper.
"Welcome to Nevermore." A tall thin man dressed in simple robes said as he walked into the sanctuary from a side door at the front.
"Archdruid Highley?" Agent Roberts guessed.
"Yes. Although I doubt that anyone here is impressed by my title. Please feel free to call me Jarvis, if you like." The man said pleasantly.
"Maybe later. Right now I'd like to know what you expect of us." Agent Roberts said seriously.
"Jen informs me that you are beings of power, so that should make explanations a bit easier for all involved."
"How's that?" Agent Roberts asked cautiously, then felt Filipe's hand working its way into his.
"As I'm sure Milo has told you, I have been given the gift of second sight. The unfortunate truth of my gift is that I will catch a glimpse of a moment, frozen in time, and then I have to make judgements based on that. I foresaw the children, those two." Archdruid Highley said as he indicated Zanner and Dex, then continued, "But I had no way of knowing if they were beings of power or average people whose presence would set a series of events into motion. I pieced together as much as I could with subsequent visions, then sent Milo and Jen to fetch them."
"Okay. But before we get into that, I thought the people you sent to get the boys were named Elias and Christine." Agent Roberts said slowly.
"We secured alternative identities for them, so that if things turned badly, they couldn't be traced back here. Our mission is too important. We won't endanger it if at all possible. However, now that you're here I see no advantage in keeping up the pretense."
"Okay. That I can understand. Now, will you tell me, what is it that you would like for us to do for you?" Agent Roberts asked carefully.
"I'm afraid that I don't have a simple answer for that, except to ask you to wait for what is going to happen next. I'm not sure what that will be, but very soon, sometime in the next few days, something is going to happen and the boys will be the only hope we will have to avert disaster. With them here, all will be well. Without them, all is lost."
"Okay. Archdruid Highley, may I present Professor Everstone..."
"Michael." Professor Everstone said as he offered his hand.
"Jarvis." Archdruid Highley responded, then shook the professor's hand firmly.
"I think that if you two can talk, that we might be able to come up with some kind of a plan for what we need to do next." Agent Roberts said seriously to the pair.
"Yes. That sounds like a very good idea. Would you like to come with me to the parsonage where we can be more comfortable? It's a bit dank and drafty here."
"Yes. Thank you. I think we'd all like that very much." Professor Everstone said pleasantly.
Agent Roberts released Filipe's hand and gave him a slight hug around the shoulders as they followed Archdruid Highley and Professor Everstone through the side door at the front of the sanctuary.
* * * * *
After going through a few dark corridors, they exited the church and walked in the rain for a short distance before reaching a much smaller building, made of the same stone as the enormous church.
Archdruid Highley led the way inside and the group were pleased to find that the interior of the building had light and heat. It was still primitive, but not as bad as any of them had been anticipating.
"I expect that you must be hungry after your journey. I have a meat pie in the oven that should be ready soon. Please sit down and Milo will see to the food as soon as it's ready." Archdruid Highley said pleasantly, then looked at his companion inquiringly.
"I'll take care of it." Mr. Ingram, or Milo, confirmed.
"Before I begin, I would like to get an idea of how much you know about 'beings of power' as you call us." Professor Everstone said as he took a seat at the large wooden table.
"I mostly know what I was told by my father, the previous Archdruid. He used to tell me and my brothers stories about the otherworldly creatures that he had encountered or heard about." Archdruid Highley said distantly.
"So you haven't personally encountered such people?" Professor Everstone asked carefully.
"Well, yes. I am one. I, like my father, have been blessed with second sight. Miklos and Jengelica both have gifts that they can call upon."
"But you don't have any awareness of people other than yourselves with these gifts?"
"My father said that there were others, but due to our mission, it was important for us to keep ourselves separate from them. Those we protect are too important to be endangered by unnecessary outside contact."
"Yet you're welcoming us. Why is that?"
"Because I have foreseen that it is necessary for the boys to be here. I have not seen any indication that any of the rest of you being here or not will make a difference."
"Thank you. I feel that what you have shared with me is the truth." Professor Everstone said calmly, then added, "Now, if I may, I will tell you why we are here."
"Yes. Thank you." Archdruid Highley said hopefully, then his expression fell as he looked around at those who were standing and listening to their conversation. "I'm sorry that I don't have places for everyone to sit. I don't often have company, as you can imagine."
"Don't concern yourself with that." Professor Everstone said pleasantly, then turned in his chair and asked, "Paul, would you mind?"
"Are you sure?" Paul asked uncertainly.
"Yes. We're all friends here." Professor Everstone said very deliberately as he turned back to face Archdruid Highley.
Paul waited for a moment to be sure, then pointed in front of him as he asked, "How about there?"
Agent Roberts and Filipe stepped to the right to get out of the way as Mr. Bentley Brown stepped to the left.
As soon as the floorspace was clear, a stone table and benches erupted from the floor, almost as though they had been spring loaded.
"Remarkable." Archdruid Highley gasped.
"Allow me to be frank." Professor Everstone said in prelude. "What brought us to this part of the country is the need for us to reconfigure and restore a barrier that has been compromised. It has been suggested by my associates that your 'protectorate' may be another such barrier and that we might unintentionally disrupt it if we were to proceed without taking the properties of it into account."
"There's another barrier?" Archdruid Highley asked cautiously.
"Yes. Perhaps two. As I said, it's only speculation at this point. But if you will conduct us to the site of your 'protectorate' and allow us to evaluate its properties, I believe that it will be a significant step in preventing the disruption that you were concerned about."
"When you say that you're going to evaluate, are the boys going to be involved?"
"Yes. They are essential to the evaluation process."
"When would you like to do this?"
"I see no reason that we couldn't do it right now." Professor Everstone said simply.
"Um... Professor? Didn't he say that there's food almost ready?" G cautiously reminded the professor.
"Yes. Of course. How thoughtless of me." Professor Everstone said with an indulgent smile at G, then turned to Archdruid Highley and said, "We will be ready to go once we have finished our meal."
* * * * *
When the meat pie was presented, none of them thought that it would be enough to feed the entire group. It turned out to be more than sufficient. The meat pie was so dense that a small serving was more than enough to satisfy even a teenage appetite.
As they were finishing their meals, Archdruid Highley quietly said, "I'm not sure what your 'evaluation' is going to entail, but I think it might be best if we let those inside the protectorate know what you will be doing, so that they won't be concerned by it."
"Yes. I can imagine that a fluctuation in the barrier might be alarming to them if they weren't informed." Professor Everstone agreed.
"If you would allow it, I would like to take the boys to meet them, to explain what it is that they're going to be doing." Archdruid Highley said cautiously, watching closely for Professor Everstone's reaction to the suggestion.
"If you think it best. But I'm sure you'll understand that in light of their near abduction earlier, that we won't allow you to take them unsupervised."
"I'm afraid that is my fault. When I told Milo and Jen to get the boys, I didn't know what circumstances they would be walking into; only the time and place where the boys would be."
"I understand. If you wouldn't object, I would like for Agent Roberts and myself to accompany you as well."
"Your people didn't tell you about that?"
"No. They seem to have neglected that detail."
"This is Agent Shawn Roberts from the FBI. I believe that the boys would feel most comfortable if he were to accompany us."
"I wasn't aware that the FBI was involved." Archdruid Highley said anxiously.
"Although I'm here on assignment with the FBI, I'm not reporting back to them about every detail of what I see. Someone in authority is aware of 'Beings of Power' and has asked me to do what I can to help resolve the barrier situation that Professor Everstone told you about." Agent Roberts said carefully.
"Thank you. That's good to know." Archdruid Highley said, then stood and continued, "Come along. I'll show you the way."
Agent Roberts, Professor Everstone, Dex and Zanner also stood to join him.
"I should go with you." Filipe said as he also stood and took Agent Roberts' hand.
"Would you mind?" Agent Roberts asked Archdruid Highley cautiously.
Archdruid Highley considered for a moment, then quietly said, "Let's go."
Agent Roberts gave Filipe's hand a gentle squeeze, then walked to follow Archdruid Highley out of the room.
* * * * *
Only a few splatters of rain fell on Agent Roberts before Filipe's spell went into effect.
Professor Everstone and Archdruid Highley were leading the way, with Professor Everstone using the spear as a walking stick and Archdruid Highley carrying a lantern, since the twilight had fully given way to darkness..
Agent Roberts and Filipe were next, still walking hand-in-hand.
Zanner and Dex were following closely behind and were unusually silent.
"On the drive here, I noticed the raven symbol on the gate. Then when we arrived, you welcomed us to 'Nevermore'. I take it that all of this is in reference to the poem by Edgar Allan Poe." Professor Everstone said casually as they walked.
"Yes. I think it was my father who came up with that. It was his hope that it would discourage any casual visitors that might happen by."
"I was just curious to know if there were any deeper meaning, considering how it seems to give the appearance that you're deliberately trying to be 'spooky'."
"That's the best way we could come up with to explain away anything... unnatural, that might be witnessed by an outsider visiting here. If they think that it's all part of an act or some type of production put on to scare them, then they're less likely to see us as some type of legitimate supernatural threat."
"Very smart. I can see that being effective." Professor Everstone said thoughtfully.
"I'm sorry that you're having to walk out here in the rain. If I had known that we'd be doing this, I would have prepared something." Archdruid Highley said regretfully.
"It isn't a problem for us. I promise you."
Archdruid Highley turned and looked at the professor, then back at the rest of the group before responding, "It appears that it isn't."
"Is there anything we should know before we enter 'The Protectorate'?" Professor Everstone asked cautiously.
"Just stay together and let me do all the talking. They know that I'm the keeper of the protectorate, so they have a reason to listen to what I have to say."
"Understood." Professor Everstone confirmed, then looked back to see that the others had received the message.
* * * * *
As the group crested a rise, they found themselves looking down into a vast black nothingness. The lantern light didn't reveal what was beneath them, only that they had reached what appeared to be the lip of a basin.
Archdruid Highley led the way down a steep and narrow path into the valley and waited at the bottom for the rest of the group to reach level ground.
Once Dex and Zanner had arrived, Archdruid Highley began walking across the field.
Agent Roberts looked ahead of them, trying to see their destination, but all he could see in the meager lantern light was the vast open field before them which seemed to contain nothing but low grass.
"Remember, stay together." Archdruid Highley said as he stopped.
Agent Roberts looked around, certain that he must be missing something, but all there was to see in every direction was the slight movement of grass in the gentle rain.
Archdruid Highley set down his lantern, then raised a hand and said, "In the days of tribute, in the months of seeing, in the years of trial, in the centuries of pain, we persevere. I humbly ask that you grant entry to one who serves. I am the keeper."
Filipe tugged on Agent Roberts' hand, guiding him to lean down.
"That's not like Agent Fastbeck's spell. The magic's completely different." Filipe whispered.
"So it's not god magic?" Agent Roberts asked cautiously.
"I don't think so. I don't see it like Paul does, but I can see enough to tell that it's different from what Agent Fastbeck did."
Agent Roberts nodded, then watched as a crude stone archway seemed to form into being out of nothing, right before their eyes.
Archdruid Highley lowered his arm, then smiled at the group before saying, "Welcome to Evermore."
* * * * *
The group were silent as they passed through the arch. The world they stepped into bore little resemblance to the one they just left.
The sky was clear and bright, although there was no sun in evidence.
The landscape appeared to be arid and dusty, interspersed with enormous crystals, jutting up out of the ground at seemingly random intervals. The only vegetation in evidence was the occasional dry prickly weed or tuft of scorched grass. In the distance there were impossibly shaped mountains, defying both gravity and reason.
"Is this some sort of spatial warp?" Professor Everstone asked as they continued to walk.
"It is a special place created specifically for those who live here."
"Who created it?" Agent Roberts asked curiously.
"Others. Friends. That's as much as I've been able to find out about them." Archdruid Highley said quietly, then thought to add, "I suppose that I should clarify that this 'pocket' was created to give them a place where they could live and thrive without being hunted to extinction."
"Do you really think that if people found out about them, they would hunt them down?"
"Maybe not at first, but eventually they would have to. It would be a matter of their survival." Archdruid Highley said simply, then turned suddenly at heavy footsteps approaching, causing the ground to tremble beneath their feet.
Agent Roberts gathered all three boys into his arms and fought to keep his wits about him as a twenty foot tall, vaguely humanoid monster approached on all fours.
"Bim, we need to see Kruggah. Take us to him." Archdruid Highley commanded.
The gray beast growled and snorted something that Agent Roberts took to be some sort of speech.
When the being before them finished whatever he was saying, he turned and began walking away.
Archdruid Highley indicated for the rest of the party to follow as he explained, "It appears that the person I wanted to see is currently dead, so we'll be dealing with his mate, Marklah."
"Is that going to be a problem for us?" Professor Everstone asked cautiously.
"It may actually work in our favor. Marklah isn't nearly as suspicious as her husband. She'll be more likely to trust that our motives are benevolent."
"What are they?" Filipe asked in a whisper.
"I don't know. This is all new to me." Agent Roberts quietly admitted.
"Unless I am mistaken, I believe that what we have stumbled upon is a sanctuary for the nephilim." Professor Everstone announced from ahead of them.
"I'm sorry, I don't know what that is." Agent Roberts said simply.
"The nephilim are the children of angels and humans." Filipe said slowly.
"Long ago, when visitors from the angelic realm visited the earthly realm, they fathered children on the human women that they encountered. Unfortunately, angelic beings cannot survive in this world for an extended time. Likewise, their offspring cannot exist in the angelic realm for more than a short period."
"Why are they monsters?" Zanner asked curiously.
"That's what typically happens when angels and humans interbreed." Professor Everstone explained.
"Please stay together and remain silent." Archdruid Highley cautioned as he slowed his pace.
Agent Roberts and the boys couldn't be more 'together' if they tried.
As the group slowly moved forward, they were greeted by the sight of an enormous female... something. She was at least thirty feet tall, green-gray in color and not altogether human in form. Regardless, she was inelegantly reclined on an outcropping of rocks and crystals, vaguely forming a couch or a lounge.
The grotesque 'woman' was naked and had a baby, which was larger than a full-grown man, feverishly suckling at one of her large pendulous breasts.
Agent Roberts tore his gaze away from the hideous sight to check on the boys to find them frozen in wide-eyed shock.
"Marklah, these people have come to examine the boundary between our worlds so that you and your people can continue to enjoy glorious campaigns without outside interference."
The monster before them shifted slightly, revealing even more of herself, then responded in a low guttural growl. Agent Roberts' eyes were drawn to what appeared to be barnacles growing between her massive thighs and had to choke down the bile rising in his throat.
"No. I'm not asking you to do anything. I just wanted you to know so that if you sensed a disturbance, you wouldn't think that you were under attack."
She growled again, then gave a snort of discomfort before shifting her enormous monstrous baby to her other breast.
"We'll go now. I need to notify Novah."
Marklah barked an abrupt response but didn't show any other sign of hostility.
"Thank you. I appreciate that. We'll be going now and I will return to let you know when everything has been done."
Marklah growled her response, then turned her attention to her baby.
* * * * *
"She's going to pass on the message to the others." Archdruid Highley said as he began to follow the path that they had arrived on.
Before much more than a minute had passed, a multi-legged creature about fifteen feet tall approached from the opposite direction.
"Hey Len. It's good to see you. I'm here with some visitors so I can't stop to visit with you right..."
He was stopped by a wheezy screech.
"Sure. This is Professor Everstone and Agent Roberts. I'm still not clear on the names of the boys."
"Filipe, Dex and Zanner." Agent Roberts said as he indicated each in turn.
Another screech sounded, more quietly than the first.
"He said, 'Their names are Filipe, Dex and Zanner'." Archdruid Highley repeated patiently.
The monster screeched one last time, then scurried away.
"He told me to tell you that his name is Linnaeus and 'Welcome to Evermore'." Archdruid Highley said with a smile, then started walking again.
"You said that before. Am I to understand that the abandoned village outside the barrier is referred to as Nevermore and the secret world hidden inside is Evermore?" Professor Everstone asked curiously.
"That's right. I think it started as a joke, but over time it began to make sense. We call this place 'Evermore' because everyone who lives here is eternal... at least, they are as long as they stay inside. If they were to leave, they would be lost forever."
"But didn't you just say that the person you wanted to talk to, Marklah's husband, was dead?"
"Currently he is, but death is a temporary state here. No one will ever die of natural causes in this place, and those who are killed in battle will eventually return, either by way of some miraculous healing or by rebirth. At any given time, more than half of the people who live here are either dead or incapacitated, recovering from a recent death. For all I know, Marklah's baby could be the reincarnation of Kruggah."
"If she's his wife, that could make their marriage a little awkward." Agent Roberts interjected.
"I'm sure that it's a marriage of convenience to consolidate their political power. Kruggah and Marklah are two of the most powerful beings in Evermore." Archdruid Highley said offhandedly, then added, "It's best not to dwell on it. You'll find no peace in the endeavor."
"If they live forever, what do they do?" Filipe asked curiously.
Agent Roberts was proud that Filipe had the self-assurance to participate in their conversation.
"They fight." Archdruid Highley said simply, then explained, "They have glorious battles and covert manuverings to try and gain an advantage over each other so that they might one day reign supreme, even if it's only for a short time. Every day that they're not fighting is either spent preparing for the next battle or recovering from the last."
"I'm sorry but I don't see the point of doing that." Filipe said honestly.
"Not everything in the world has a point. This is how they choose to live."
"So you and your people actively work to protect their way of life?" Professor Everstone asked slowly.
"We work to protect their existence. Good or bad, right or wrong, we believe that they deserve to exist." Archdruid Highley said passionately.
"Given that they're contained and not doing harm to anyone outside this 'protectorate' of theirs, I suppose that it is a humane solution to the problem of what to do with them." Professor Everstone said consideringly.
"It is possible that the day may come when the world will need the nephilim. Until that day comes, we will continue to shelter and protect them."
"To that end, my team and I will evaluate your barrier and do all in our power to make sure that your charges are kept safe from harm... and from discovery."
"I should warn you that my visions are never wrong. The boys, Zanner and Dex, will be essential to the survival of the protectorate in the coming days." Archdruid Highley said firmly.
"Of that I have no doubt. As soon as we're out of this constructed world and back in our own reality, we can begin our evaluation so that we can determine just what needs to be done to set everything right in the long term." Professor Everstone said professionally.
"If that's all you're waiting on, then allow me..." Archdruid Highley said as he stepped up to the arch and raised a hand dramatically.
As soon as he did, Filipe took Agent Roberts' hand again and held it firmly.
Agent Roberts wasn't sure what had spooked Filipe, but didn't hesitate to respond by gripping Filipe's hand to assure him that he was safe and secure.
The view through the arch swirled and changed and eventually resolved into darkness and the sound of pattering rain.
"Is it okay if I make us some light?" Filipe asked just loudly enough for Professor Everstone to hear him.
"Yes. I would appreciate that, Filipe." Professor Everstone responded with a smile.
"Do you want to help me Zanner?" Filipe asked as he briefly let go of Agent Roberts' hand.
"Sure. What do you want me to do?"
"I was thinking that if you could spread some fairy lights ahead of us, I could do fireballs that will move with us." Filipe said seriously.
"That's a good idea. I could do either one of those, but I don't know if I could keep up with them both at once."
Filipe quickly gestured and created three floating fireballs, then returned to holding Agent Roberts' hand.
"Are you alright, Filipe?" Agent Roberts asked quietly.
"Yeah. But I think I figured out that guy's magic. I mean, how he opened the barrier."
"Oh? How's that?" Agent Roberts asked curiously.
"That magic he used, I think it was probably angelic."
"Do you think he's a nephilim?"
"No. I think he has the same thing that Agent Fastbeck does. I think that he's got something like an enchantment that allows him to open the barrier and talk to the people inside it, except that his was given by an angel instead of by a god."
Once they were fully out of the barrier, Archdruid Highley picked up his darkened lantern, then began to lead the way back across the wide open field with specks of fairy light illuminating his path.
To Be Continued...
Editor's Notes: Nice chapter!
I just learned in the last couple of weeks that in Briton the term 'Fairy Lights' is used to describe what we call miniature lights or Italian lights. Personally, I prefer the term Fairy lights.
As always, I am ready for more chapters.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher